Banking the Unbanked: Evidence from Three Countries

Posted: 10 Dec 2016

See all articles by Pascaline Dupas

Pascaline Dupas

Stanford University

Dean S. Karlan

Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Jonathan Robinson

University of California, Santa Cruz

Diego Ubfal

Bocconi University; IGIER; Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL)

Date Written: November 7, 2016

Abstract

We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention-to-treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes. This suggests that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably since impacts, even if present, are likely small and diverse.

Keywords: financial access, savings, banking, microfinance, field experiment, multi-country, Uganda, Malawi; Chile

JEL Classification: C93, D14, G21, O16, O12

Suggested Citation

Dupas, Pascaline and Karlan, Dean S. and Robinson, Jonathan and Ubfal, Diego, Banking the Unbanked: Evidence from Three Countries (November 7, 2016). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 440. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2882698

Pascaline Dupas (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Dean S. Karlan

Yale University ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

E60-246
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Jonathan Robinson

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

Diego Ubfal

Bocconi University ( email )

IGIER ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL) ( email )

66 bis avenue Jean Moulin
Paris, 75014
France

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