Reframing Debt Reduction with Subgoals

Last registered on December 17, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Reframing Debt Reduction with Subgoals
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003865
Initial registration date
February 28, 2019

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
March 02, 2019, 12:59 PM EST

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

Last updated
December 17, 2020, 1:41 PM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Southern California, Center for Economic and Social Research

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Southern California

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2019-02-15
End date
2021-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Does reframing large debt burdens into smaller goals increase debt repayment? We are working with a large not-for-profit credit counseling agency to examine whether reframing debt payments into subgoals can improve debt repayment behavior. Randomly selected participants in the credit counseling agency's debt management plan (DMP) will receive communications that frame their debt burdens as small, steadily increasing subgoals, of which the majority can be successfully completed in the first year of the plan. We plan to evaluate the impacts of reframing on DMP retention and debt reduction.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Burke, Jeremy and Simone Schaner. 2020. "Reframing Debt Reduction with Subgoals." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3865
Former Citation
Burke, Jeremy and Simone Schaner. 2020. "Reframing Debt Reduction with Subgoals." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3865/history/82184
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
This study will evaluate the effectiveness of reframing large debt burdens into milestones (subgoals), and of messages providing encouragement of successful repayment behavior on clients repayment of these debt burdens.

Intervention Start Date
2019-02-15
Intervention End Date
2021-03-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Total debt paid;
2) DMP retention;
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1) On-time payment behavior
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Study participants will be assigned to one of three groups: 1) Control: These clients will not receive any treatment
2) Treatment (A) - Encouragement: Clients in the encouragement group will receive 6 additional email and SMS messages, if they are opted in to email and SMS messages, over the course of their DMP. These messages will congratulate the clients on their progress and encourage them to continue to make payments.
3) Treatment (B) – Debt Reframing: Clients in the reframing will receive 6 additional email and SMS messages over the course of their DMP, and they will have a personalized visualization added to their monthly statement. They will only receive these messages if they are opted-in to email and SMS messages. These messages will frame each payment within the context of discrete payment goals, most of which can accomplished within the first year of the DMP. These messages will also congratulate the clients on their progress and encourage them to continue to make payments.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done using the last digit of a client's social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN).
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
5,000 clients
Sample size: planned number of observations
5,000 clients
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control - 1500 clients
Treatment (Encouragement) - 1500 clients
Treatment (Reframing) - 2000 clients
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With power 0.8, a .05 significance threshold, and means and standard deviations calculated from a panel of DMP clients starting in 2016, the minimum detectable effect for each outcome is as follows for each treatment group: Reframing - DMP drop-out after 12-months: 4.00 percentage points (.096 sd) Encouragement - DMP Retention: 4.27 percentage points (.10 sd) Reframing - Total Debt Paid after 12-months: $495.49 (.096 sd) Encouragement - Total Debt Paid after 12-months: $528.93 (.10 sd)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Innovations for Poverty Action
IRB Approval Date
2018-10-29
IRB Approval Number
14771

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials