Aspirations and Financial Decisions: Evidence from the Philippines

Last registered on February 01, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Aspirations and Financial Decisions: Evidence from the Philippines
Initial registration date
January 31, 2021

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
February 01, 2021, 10:41 AM EST

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


Primary Investigator

University of Michigan

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
World Bank

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Can raising the aspirations of the poor help them escape poverty? In theory, exogenously raising aspirations could have positive effects by inducing higher effort, but could also reduce effort if higher aspirations lead to failure and frustration. We implement a randomized controlled trial among small entrepreneurs testing the impact of exogenously inducing high financial aspirations. We randomly assign clients of a microfinance institution (MFI) in the Philippines to an aspirations treatment, a financial knowledge treatment, both treatments, or a control group. This research design allows us to compare the aspirations treatment with a more traditional financial knowledge treatment. Primary outcomes of interest are savings and borrowing, self-reported in an endline survey as well as from the MFI's administrative data. We also examine impacts on self-reported business investments and behavioral parameters (present bias and locus of control).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Mckenzie, David, Aakash Mohpal and Dean Yang. 2021. "Aspirations and Financial Decisions: Evidence from the Philippines." AEA RCT Registry. February 01.
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Experimental Details


The interventions for this Trial are two kinds of training: Aspirations and Knowledge Training.

The Aspirations Training was conducted for the 'Aspirations' and 'Both' groups, and has the following contents:
1. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
2. Dream Collage
3. Dream Timeline and Financial Matrix
4. Delaying Gratification "Marshmallow" Video
5. Overcoming Limiting Beliefs, Part II
6. Understanding Your Why
7. Review of Dream Timeline and Financial Matrix
8. Rich Mindset

Knowledge Training was implemented in the 'Knowledge' and the 'Both' Groups, and has with the following contents:
1. Calculating Your Net Worth Part 1
2. Calculating Your Net Worth and Understanding PALFSI's Flexible Savings
3. Calculating Savings
4. Calculating Simple and Long Term Financial Goals
5. Introduction to Budgets
6. Budgets and Savings
7. Budgets Part 3
8. Financial Knowledge Quiz

Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes are savings and loan balances (under item 2 below). Other outcomes are of secondary interest, as they are steps along the causal chain.

1. Training concept retention and setting of savings goals:
- Percent of aspirations related questions correct
- Percent of knowledge related questions correct
- Amount of savings goal
- Savings goal as a fraction of income
- Amount of education savings goal

2. Financial outcomes:
- fraction of savings goal met
- total saving balance
- total loan balance
- number of loans
- PALFSI saving balance (from survey and administrative data)
- PALFSI loan balance (from survey and administrative data)
- number of PALFSI loans (from survey and administrative data)

3. Household expenditures:
- total monthly expenditure
- spending on temptation goods
- business investments

4. Locus of control and time preferences
- Locus of control
- Present-bias
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We use a 2 by 2 design in which there are three treatment groups and one control. One treatment group will be assigned to the Aspirations treatment, one group the Knowledge treatment, one group both, and one group will serve as the control.
There will be no marketing used. PALFSI plans to collect data for its own administrative purposes on its clients’ savings behavior. We work with PALFSI implement a randomized 2 by 2 design and analyze the data. We use PALFSI’s administrative data from July 2012 to July 2014 to measure outcomes, alongside data from an endline survey.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done using STATA.
Randomization Unit
The randomization units are microcredit borrowing groups, each with an average of 13 clients.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The number of clusters (borrowing groups) for this trial is 193.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The planned number of observations (individual participants or borrowers) will be between 2000 and 3000.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Study participants are micro-entrepreneurs who are clients of PALFSI, clustered in borrowing groups. The number of groups is 193 broken down as follows:
1. Knowledge Training - 48 groups
2. Aspirations Training - 49 groups
3. Both Knowledge and Aspirations Training - 48 groups
4. Control - 46 groups
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action IRB - USA
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