Competition as a Savings Incentive: A Field Experiment at a Homeless Shelter

34 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2013

See all articles by Sera Linardi

Sera Linardi

University of Pittsburgh

Tomomi Tanaka

The World Bank

Date Written: October 22, 2012


This paper describes a randomized field experiment testing the impact of a savings competition on the behavior of homeless individuals staying at a transitional shelter. When monetary prizes were offered for achieving the highest saving rates within a particular month, average savings increased by $80 (a 30% increase in savings rate) while income and attendance at case management meetings remained unchanged. However, repeating the competition in the following month had no effect because responsive savers selected out of the shelter after the first month. In summary, while a savings competition can increase savings in the short run, its effect may be limited to the intensive margin and may diminish with repetition.

Keywords: Field experiment, Savings, Income, Competition, Poverty, Social services, Homelessness, Time inconsistency, Participation

JEL Classification: C93, D91, I3, J1, L3, Z18

Suggested Citation

Linardi, Sera and Tanaka, Tomomi, Competition as a Savings Incentive: A Field Experiment at a Homeless Shelter (October 22, 2012). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Sera Linardi (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Tomomi Tanaka

The World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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