We just got the good news that a savings experiment of ours will be published in Economic Development and Cultural Change: “Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi.” My co-authors on the paper are my former graduate students Lasse Brune (Yale) and Jessica Goldberg (U. Maryland), and my long-time co-author (and running buddy) Xavi Gine (World Bank DECRG). The working paper version is here.
In this experiment, we randomly assigned farmers in Malawi to being offered commitment or ordinary savings accounts at Opportunity Bank (also, a randomly-selected control group was not offered savings services, but tracked in the same way). We found that the farmers offered savings accounts later raised their agricultural input use, farm output, and household consumption levels by more than the control group. Unfortunately we do not have the statistical power to say whether the commitment savings treatment had higher impacts than the ordinary savings treatment, so all we can say is that getting offered some savings treatment had positive impacts. This is the first study (to our knowledge) to provide evidence of positive impacts of a savings facilitation intervention on agricultural outcomes of rural households.