Delivering Conditional Cash Transfers Via Savings Accounts: Default And Mental Accounting Mechanisms

Investigadores: Carlos Chiapa, Silvia Prina, Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, Aurora Franco

minimopWe aim to test whether and how mental accounting and default mechanisms improve the ability of poor households to save, cope with negative shocks, and invest in health and education. The Mexican antipoverty program Oportunidades delivers conditional cash transfers to its beneficiaries via direct deposits into savings accounts. We plan to exploit this key feature of the program to evaluate the potential of the default and mental accounting mechanisms for a vulnerable population. We will conduct a randomized controlled trial at the locality level with three treatment arms. Households living in control localities (C) will keep receiving their cash transfers via their savings accounts. Households living in our mental accounting localities (T1) will be offered access to a sub-account for emergencies. They will be able to voluntarily deposit any amount in this sub-account. Finally, households living in our mental accounting + default localities (T2) will also be offered access to a sub-account for emergencies and will be given the chance to have 10% of their Oportunidades transfers automatically deposited into their sub-account. The comparison of C vs. T1 + T2 will identify the effect of mental accounting. The comparison of T1 vs. T2 will identify the effect of saving by default. In addition, we will explore the potential effect of health insurance and effective access on saving behaviors.

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Centro de Investigación en Evaluación y Encuestas del Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública de México.
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