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Title: Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from three countries

Author(s): Pascaline Dupas, Dean S. Karlan, Jonathan Robinson and Diego Ubfal

Publication Date: July 2016

Keyword(s): financial access; savings; banking; micro-finance; field experiment; multicountry; Uganda; Malawi; Chile

Programme Area(s): Development Economics, Financial Economics and Labour Economics

Abstract: We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17%, 10%, and 3% 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.

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Bibliographic Reference

Dupas, P, Karlan, D, Robinson, J and Ubfal, D. 2016. 'Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from three countries'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11420