Dec 13, 2013

Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda

This paper by Dean S. Karlan, Aishwarya Ratan & Jonathan Zinman has an interesting discussion of the behavioural bias that affect the usage of saving products. An introduction in the section
The behavioral social sciences suggest several cognitive tendencies that can lead to undersaving or more broadly to “present-bias”. Behavioral research has documented biases in preferences (costly self-control, loss aversion, anticipatory utility); in expectations/perceptions of prospects (e.g., over-optimism); in price perceptions (e.g., exponential growth bias); and in whether and how to make a decision conditional on all other variables (e.g., limited attention, planning fallacies). Understanding these biases can help us identify more and less malleable drivers of undersaving, and design products and processes that help people save as they aspire to in their more reflective moments. Our review below focuses on field (not lab) evidence linking specific behavioral biases to savings behavior in developing countries; see DellaVigna (2009) for a broader review, and Zinman (forthcoming) for a complementary review of behavioral theories and evidence related to over-borrowing.
It also gives ideas for relevant research that needs to be done.  

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