As part of this study, we offer mobile-phone based bank savings accounts that are linked to mobile money to married men and women in Ghana’s Volta region.
In order to answer our research questions, we plan to randomly vary three elements: (i) the liquidity restriction; (ii) spousal information regarding which liquidity restriction is in place; and (iii) value of incentive payments for choosing different levels of liquidity restrictions.
The first set of research questions will look at the demand curve for hard vs soft commitment; the correlation between baseline characteristics and demand for hard vs soft commitment; the extent to which the spousal information treatment impacts demand for hard vs soft commitment; and how all of these vary by gender. One of the baseline characteristics that we will use for this heterogeneity analysis is spousal alignment on spending and savings priorities (well versus poorly aligned). The second set of research questions will look at impacts on savings, including: how the spousal information treatment impacts savings; how the hard commitment treatment impacts savings; the interaction between the hard commitment treatment and the spousal information treatment; and the impact of plausible (but not necessarily actual) commitment.
The study sample will be comprised of 1,000 married couples (for a total of 1,000 men and 1,000 women) – or more, if budget constraints allow for it. All 2,000 individuals must be age 18 or older; must be in a monogamous marriage or union and live together with their spouse and partner; and must have a valid ID. Sample creation will begin with a listing of people interested in the product. The spouse who initiates the couple’s entry into the sample by participating in the listing (we will refer to this person as the “primary spouse”) must also must also already have their own MTN sim card that is registered in their own name, and that is registered for MTN mobile money – as both of these are pre-requisites for activating the m-savings product. The study sample will be recruited from the communities near partner bank branches. The branches are located in Nkwanta, Krachi, Kadjebi, and Jassikan Districts within Ghana’s Volta Region.
We will begin by conducting public outreach sessions in communities surrounding our partner bank’s branches. The outreach sessions will address in general terms the features of the mobile-savings accounts. During these, as well as other mobilization efforts, interested individuals will be screened for eligibility, and their contact information will be recorded. Eligible, interested individuals will then be scheduled for an appointment during which they and their spouse will participate in an information session about the products, will both complete baseline surveys, and will both be offered m-savings accounts.
All randomizations will be stratified by gender, community, and whether or not the primary spouse has a pre-existing account with a formal bank.