Experiment on debts management

Last registered on December 13, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Experiment on debts management
Initial registration date
December 04, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
December 13, 2022, 10:25 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Technology Sydney

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Technology Sydney
PI Affiliation
University of Sydney

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project aims to investigate how people manage multiple debts. In particular, how they make repayment with limited cash flow. Previous studies indicate that some people prefer paying off smaller debts first when bigger debts have higher interest rates. It may lead to the loss of financial benefits when bigger debts are costly. This project not only attempts to identify such preference but also to investigate whether it is influenced by income, number of debts, and types of debts, and whether the costs of paying off lower higher interest debts are exacerbated if distinct debt products such as BNPL schemes are introduced vs. only credit card debts.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Slonim, Robert, Kadir Atalay and Hanlin Lou. 2022. "Experiment on debts management." AEA RCT Registry. December 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.10186-1.0
Experimental Details


We vary the following things across conditions:

1. The number of distinct debts owed (2 or 3) - within-subject manipulation
2. The types of debt: Only credit cards or credit cards and BNPL - Between subjects
3. The order of disposable income - Between Subjects
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our main variable of interest is debt repayments.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We are going to run a two-stage Lab experiment online through an survey. The survey will be built in Qualtrics and sent to participants via Mturk.

In the first stage, participants will be asked to make a series of hypothetical debt repayment decisions. Specifically, participants would allocate their hypothetical disposable income on paying two credit card statements.

In the second stage, participants will be randomly assigned to two conditions. In one scenario, participants would allocate their hypothetical disposable income on paying three credit card statements. In another scenario, participants would allocate their hypothetical disposable income on paying two credit card statements, and a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) debt.

We will record participants' debt repayment decisions.

We will also collect additional information that is intended to be used as possible control variables that could potentially help explain variations in debt repayment behaviour across subjects. These variables include measures of time preferences, risk preferences, financial well-being, financial literacy, credit card usage behaviours, and demographic information.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by Qualtrics
Randomization Unit
We will conduct an individual-level randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Participants are not clustered. 600 participants.
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 participants.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
This is a 2x2 design with 150 participants per condition. The conditions are the order of the initial Disposable Income ($400 or $700) by the second stage debts (either three credit cards or two credit cards and one BNPL).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Human Ethics Committee(University of Sydney)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials