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Savings in Transnational Households: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador
Last registered on July 24, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Savings in Transnational Households: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001339
Initial registration date
July 24, 2016
Last updated
July 24, 2016 10:03 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Michigan
PI Affiliation
Francisco Marroquin University
PI Affiliation
Harvard Business School
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2007-06-01
End date
2009-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We implemented a randomized field experiment that tested ways to stimulate savings by international migrants in their origin country. We find that migrants value opportunities to exert greater control over financial activities in their home countries. We offered U.S.-based migrants bank accounts in El Salvador, randomly varying migrant control over El Salvador–based savings by offering different accounts across treatments. Migrants offered the greatest degree of control accumulated the most savings. Impacts likely represent increases in total savings; there is no evidence that savings increases were simply reallocated from other savings mechanisms. Enhanced control over home country savings does not affect remittances sent home.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Ashraf, Nava et al. 2016. "Savings in Transnational Households: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador." AEA RCT Registry. July 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1339-1.0.
Former Citation
Ashraf, Nava et al. 2016. "Savings in Transnational Households: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador." AEA RCT Registry. July 24. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1339/history/9572.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Migrants were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups or a comparison group, each with equal (25%) probability.

All project participants were visited by marketers who emphasized the benefits of remitting funds directly into accounts and of remittance-recipient access to funds via ATM/debit cards (rather than having to wait in a teller line to receive a remittance).

The treatment groups are:
Treatment 1: Offer of assistance in setting up an account in the name of someone in El Salvador, into which the migrant could remit, granting the recipient full control of the deposits
Treatment 2: Offer a joint account where the recipient and the remitter would have access through ATM cards, allowing monitoring, but no enforcement on the part of the migrant
Treatment 3: Treatment 2 plus an account only in the name of the migrant, providing full ability to control funds in the account.

The control group only received the talk but no offer to open an account.
Intervention Start Date
2007-12-01
Intervention End Date
2008-07-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Account opening at Banco Agricola
2) Savings balances in the bank accounts opened for the study
3) Savings in other instruments.
4) Remittances
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) Account opening at Banco Agricola: How many and what kind of accounts were opened by the three treatment groups twelve months after intervention
2) Savings balances in the bank accounts opened for the study: Obtained from bank administrative database 12 and 48 months after intervention.
3) Savings in other instruments: Total savings in El Salvador, in the U.S. and in cash, obtained from the follow-up survey
4) Remittances: Sent through the partner bank (administrative data) or through all channels (follow-up survey).
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Study participants were recruited from those waiting outside the El Salvadorian embassy in Washington DC. Migrants of Salvadorian origin, who entered the US for the first time at least 15 years ago and had sent money home in the past year, were eligible for the study. Those who met the conditions and signed the consent forms were administered the baseline survey and visited by marketers who made the account offers according to assigned treatment status. In treatments that required coordination with the remittance recipient back in El Salvador, marketers facilitated account opening by allowing the migrant a free phone call to El Salvador and setting up the account opening meeting in El Salvador. The follow-up survey was conducted approximately 12 months after the initial offer of account opening.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual respondent
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Study not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
898 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment 0 (control): 219
Treatment 1:210
Treatment 2: 244
Treatment 3: 225
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Michigan
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
HUM00008878
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
July 31, 2008, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 30, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Study not clustered
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Yes
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
508 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Treatment 0 (control): 112 Treatment 1:115 Treatment 2: 150 Treatment 3: 131
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
SAVINGS IN TRANSNATIONAL HOUSEHOLDS: A FIELD EXPERIMENT AMONG MIGRANTS FROM EL SALVADOR

We implemented a randomized field experiment that tested ways to stimulate migrants’ savings in their origin country. We find that migrants value opportunities to exert greater control over financial activities in their home countries. We offered U.S.-based migrants bank accounts in El Salvador, randomly varying migrant control over El Salvador–based savings by offering different accounts across treatments. Migrants offered the greatest degree of control accumulated the most savings. Impacts likely represent increases in total savings; there is no evidence that savings increases were simply reallocated from other savings mechanisms. Enhanced control over home country savings does not affect remittances sent home.
Citation
Ashraf, Nava, Diego Aycinena, Claudia Martínez, and Dean Yang. 2015. "Savings in Transnational Households: A Field Experiment among Migrants from El Salvador." Review of Economics and Statistics 97(2): 352-356.