Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from three countries
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 sizable among users, corresponding to the seventy-ninth, ninety-first, and ninety-sixth 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 aver- age.
Karlan, Dean. 2018. Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from three countries. 10(2): 257-297.