We evaluate a unique "commitment" savings account, in which individuals restrict their right to withdraw funds until they have reached a self-specified goal. Clients are also given the option to automate transfers from a primary account into the commitment savings account, and given the option of buying a lockbox to store their money, with only the bank possessing a key. The account helped people save more after one year, and increased decision making power for women in the household.
How important are differences of opinion within the household for making financial decisions? In this study, married couples in rural Kenya were given the opportunity to open joint and individual bank accounts at randomly assigned interest rates. Researchers assessed if couples with different preferences worked together to save in the highest return account, or if these differences led to poor financial choices.
Trade credit, which is usually provided by up-stream suppliers to down-stream firms, can help small businesses to purchase non-perishable goods for resale and free up resources for other uses. However, provision of trade credit may be limited by high transaction costs, up-stream liquidity constraints, and concerns over repayment.
Limited awareness of risk factors for maternal mortality, particularly among men, may contribute to persistently high death rates in sub-Saharan Africa, while raising awareness could increase demand for family planning and lower death rates. Researchers partnered with Zambia’s Ministry of Health and local NGOs to evaluate how providing information to men and women about maternal mortality risk impacts their knowledge of risk and demand for family planning, as well as maternal and child heal
Little is known about how communication between spouses influences financial decisions, and if women and men allocate money differently when they have decision-making power. In this study, married couples in the Philippines were randomly assigned to one of four groups to evaluate how information and communication affect how money is allocated in the household. Results suggested the level of privacy with which one makes financial decisions plays a larger role than gender.
Despite the prevalence of female entrepreneurs in developing countries, recent research suggests that women do not benefit from loans and grants in the same way that men do, leading to questions about the value of offering financial services to female entrepreneurs.
Many agricultural technologies with demonstrated productivity gains are not adopted by farmers. Without reliable and persuasive sources of information, farmers may hesitate to adopt new inputs and techniques. Researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to test the impact of leveraging social networks to disseminate information about two technologies, pit planting and “Chinese composting,” on farmers’ adoption of these methods.
Most microfinance institutions follow a rigid contract model: clients repay loans in weekly installments beginning shortly after disbursement. Researchers tested two features of these contracts, repayment frequency and the time of the first repayment, to determine if characteristics of the loan contract affect borrowers’ repayment behavior and the types of investments they make. They found that less frequent repayments did not increase defaults.
Lack of managerial capital remains one of the core challenges to SME growth in developing countries. However, rigorous evidence on the impact of programs focused on improving managerial skills is limited. This study evaluates a program which offers training and consulting for managerial staff in garment factories. It focuses on understanding how new management practices are adopted and implemented and what determines their success.
In Malawi, most of the population works in agriculture and many people grow just enough food to survive, sometimes less. Agricultural technology can enable farmers to grow more food, but questions remain about how to get farmers to adopt new technologies and more efficient farming methods. Researchers in this study examine if certain established social networks can break down information barriers and increase adoption of new agricultural technology in Malawi.
We evaluate a novel microfinance model in which new customers need to gain sponsorship by an existing customer. We investigate how relationships between individuals and social networks impact repayment behaviour. This individual lending program screens clients and enforces good practices much in the same way as more traditional group lending does, but allows microcredit to be extended to those who might not qualify or be interested in a group liability loan.
Microcredit is often offered in conjunction with financial education services to train clients through pre-existing infrastructure. In Peru, researchers attempted to evaluate the impact of a technology-based financial literacy program on microcredit clients’ financial behavior. However, low implementation levels led to a discontinuation of the evaluation.
In the United States, private giving to charitable causes has grown significantly in the past several decades. Among the tactics commonly used to solicit donations are matching gifts. This study explored the importance of price on charitable giving by randomly varying the rates of matching gifts and measuring the subsequent effect on donations.
Accessing safe drinking water is a major challenge in many developing countries. In order to improve access to safe drinking water, Relief International (RI) has developed a rainwater storage device (RSD), which consists of a rubber bag approximately 1.5m across and 1.5m tall when full. Researchers are evaluating this new technology in Kamwenge district in Uganda.
In sub-Saharan Africa, many of the region’s poor are small-scale farmers. While certain agronomic practices, such as pruning tree crops, can substantially increase yields, take-up of many such practices remains low, potentially resulting in lower yields and profits. In Rwanda, researchers worked with TechnoServe to evaluate the impact of an agronomy training program on farmers’ knowledge and use of best practices in coffee-growing.
Growing evidence from psychology and behavioral economics research shows that behavior can be influenced by leveraging social norms and emotions. Researchers examined the effect of a series of informational messages on participation in a recycling program in Peru. The messages sought to elicit pressures such as social norms, peer comparison, conformity, authority, and the environmental or social benefits to increased participation.