Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from Three Countries
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17, 10, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits in treatment accounts were sizeable among users, corresponding to the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no discernible intention–to–treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes, though we cannot reject large effect sizes for active users. Results suggest that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably on average.
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