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The Effects of Access to Banking on Children: A Field Study

Last registered on November 25, 2019


Trial Information

General Information

The Effects of Access to Banking on Children: A Field Study
Initial registration date
November 22, 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
November 25, 2019, 10:31 AM EST

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



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
The University of Alabama

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This field study tests a school-based banking program in a US public school district. Schools were randomly selected to open an in-school bank branch, and a subset of students were randomly assigned incentives to open an account at one of these branches. We focus on 4th grade (10 year old) students offered banking services, as well as those assigned an incentive to open an account. We measure changes in views of banks and financial services, as well as tests of objective financial literacy. While expanded access to a savings account at school boosts take-up of accounts, banking does not appear to substitute for financial literacy education.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Collins, J. Michael, Madelaine L'Esperance and Elizabeth Odders-White. 2019. "The Effects of Access to Banking on Children: A Field Study." AEA RCT Registry. November 25.
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Experimental Details


Randomized access to bank in school program. The in-school branches operated once per week in a common area of the school before school, during lunch, or after school. Students were able to make deposits and withdrawals less than $20 in school.

Randomized seed deposit. Selected students received a $25 seed deposit, if they opened an account at the partner bank. Students could open joint custodial savings accounts with their parents, or could open accounts in their name only without the signature of their parents.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Savings attitude, financial services attitude, financial literacy, allowance receipt
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In the spring of 2013, fourth grade classrooms in Amarillo Independent School District in Amarillo, Texas took part in a field study to measure the effectiveness of access to bank accounts. Access to a savings account in school, as well as incentives to make deposits, were randomly assigned to students across schools. A total of 15 schools were randomly assigned to open in-school Kid's Bank branches of Happy State Bank, a Texas-based community bank. Another 18 schools were randomly assigned to not open a bank branch, for a total of 33 schools in the study. Half of the fourth grade students who attended schools with branches were randomly selected to receive a $25 seed deposit, if they opened an account.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
School-level randomization for banks.
Individual-level randomization for seed deposits.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
33 schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
635 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
18 schools control (no bank in school). 15 schools treatment (bank in school).
97 students assigned to control for seed deposit. 143 students assigned to receive seed deposit.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Wisconsin-Madison Education and Social/Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
June 15, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
June 15, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
33 schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
635 students
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
15 schools open bank in school. 18 schools control.
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

This field study estimates the short-run effects of banks in schools on students’ financial behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge. The presence of in-school banking programs increased the rate that students owned bank accounts, improved students’ perceptions of banks, and increased indicators of financial socialization. Using the random assignment of banks at the school level as an instrument, being banked improved students’ attitudes about banking services and increased the rate that students engaged with their parents on financial issues. Banks in schools do not appear to influence student financial literacy or savings levels, however. Exposure to banking at school primarily serves as a mechanism to increase students’ awareness of financial services, and leads to more parent-child interactions related to financial issues.
Collins, J.M., L’Esperance, M. What do students gain from banks in schools? A field study. Rev Econ Household 21, 567–590 (2023).

Reports & Other Materials