Steinert, Janina Isabel Satish, Rucha Vasumati Stips, Felix Vollmer, Sebastian
Year of Publication:
Discussion Papers No. 270
We study the impact of a portable "soft" commitment device on the financial behavior of low-income slum dwellers in Maharashtra, India. 1525 individuals were randomly allocated to receiving either a zip purse and a lockbox (treatment arm) or a lockbox only (control arm). Based on self-reported measures and hand counts of money held in the distributed saving devices, we document an 81% increase in total savings in the treatment group. We do not find significant reductions in temptation spending, thus suggesting that increases in savings were not primarily realized through improvements in self-control. Instead, we suggest that reduced sharing obligations are driving the effect. In additional analyses, we document a 35% decrease in past-month transferst of cash to other household members. Hence, our findings suggest that saving can be more effectively promoted by alleviating access-related rather than behavior-related constraints and by giving women access to a saving device of their own.