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Publications & Research :: Policy Research Working Paper

Commitments to Save : A Field Experiment in Rural Malawi

ACCESS TO FUNDS ACCOUNT HOLDERS AGRICULTURAL INPUTS AGRICULTURE AUCTION AUCTION FLOOR BANK ACCOUNT BANK ACCOUNTS BANK OPERATIONS BENEFICIARIES BUDGETING CASH-CROP COST ANALYSIS CREDIT ACCESS CREDIT ASSOCIATIONS CREDIT COOPERATIVES CREDIT PRODUCTS CROP VALUE DEBT DEPOSIT DEPOSIT ACCOUNT DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS DEPOSIT MOBILIZATION DEPOSITS DEVELOPING COUNTRIES DEVELOPING COUNTRY DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS DEVELOPMENT POLICY DISCOUNT RATE DURABLE DURABLE ASSETS ECONOMETRICS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIC OUTCOMES ECONOMIC RESEARCH ECONOMICS RESEARCH EXPENDITURE EXPENDITURES FARM OUTPUT FARMERS FEMALE EMPOWERMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FINANCIAL PRODUCTS FOREIGN EXCHANGE FUTURE RESEARCH FUTURE STUDIES GOVERNMENT BUDGET GOVERNMENT BUDGETS GROUP LOAN HOLDING HOLDINGS HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION HOUSEHOLD SIZE HOUSEHOLD SURVEY ILLITERACY INCENTIVES TO SAVE INCOME INCOME LEVELS INCOMES INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS INFORMAL INSURANCE INSURANCE INTEREST RATE INTEREST RATES INTERNATIONAL BANK INVESTMENT BEHAVIOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE LANDOWNERS LENDER LENDERS LIABILITY LOAN LOAN RECOVERY LOAN REPAYMENT LOW-INCOME COUNTRIES MARGINAL UTILITY MARGINAL UTILITY OF CONSUMPTION MICROCREDIT MICROCREDIT PROGRAMS MICROENTERPRISE CREDIT MICROENTERPRISES MICROFINANCE MICROFINANCE INSTITUTION MICROFINANCE INSTITUTIONS OPTIMAL CONTRACTS OUTPUT PAYMENT SYSTEM POLITICAL ECONOMY POOR PORTFOLIO PORTFOLIOS POSITIVE EFFECTS PREMATURE WITHDRAWALS PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT PUBLIC POLICY RATES OF RETURN RESOURCE ALLOCATION RETURNS ROSCAS RURAL RURAL BANKING RURAL BANKS RURAL COMMUNITIES RURAL HOUSEHOLDS SAVINGS SAVINGS ACCOUNT SAVINGS ACCOUNTS SAVINGS BEHAVIOR SAVINGS PROGRAMS SMALL BUSINESSES SMALLHOLDER FARMERS SOCIAL NETWORKS STOCKS SURCHARGES SUSTAINABLE FINANCE SUSU TIME DEPOSIT TRANSACTION TRANSACTION COSTS TRANSACTIONS COSTS TRANSPORT VILLAGE ECONOMIES WITHDRAWAL
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Africa | Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa | Southern Africa | Malawi
2012-03-19T18:03:47Z | 2012-03-19T18:03:47Z | 2011-08-01

This paper reports the results of a field experiment that randomly assigned smallholder cash crop farmers formal savings accounts. In collaboration with a microfinance institution in Malawi, the authors tested two primary treatments, offering either: 1) "ordinary" accounts, or 2) both ordinary and "commitment" accounts. Commitment accounts allowed customers to restrict access to their own funds until a future date of their choosing. A control group was not offered any account but was tracked alongside the treatment groups. Only the commitment treatment had statistically significant effects on subsequent outcomes. The effects were positive and large on deposits and withdrawals immediately prior to the next planting season, agricultural input use in that planting, crop sales from the subsequent harvest, and household expenditures in the period after harvest. Across the set of key outcomes, the commitment savings treatment had larger effects than the ordinary savings treatment. Additional evidence suggests that the positive impacts of commitment derive from keeping funds from being shared with one's social network.

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