“Incentivizing Savings” is a randomized impact evaluation that is currently taking place in the Metropolitan Region, Chile, executed by J-PAL LAC, institution based in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in partnership with BancoEstado, a state-owned, autonomous financial institution. The investigation aims to determine and compare the effect of different saving incentives, as saving reminders through cell phone text messages (SMS) and automatic savings plans, in variables like financial inclusion and general well-being of the individuals. A more specific description of the treatments is presented below:
• Treatment 1: Automatic savings plan. This treatment consists in the offering of an automatic savings program.
• Treatment 2: Reminder text messages. This group receives one text message per month, recalling their savings target mentioned in the baseline survey.
• Treatment 3: Short Training. A four-part treatment, it begins with a 3 minutes animated video with strategies that could eventually help people to lower their consumption in Temptation goods. Second, a pack is given to those assigned to this treatment with a magnet and a card holder with the logo of the project as "reminders". Third, a book that insists in the strategies is given to the participants assigned to this treatment. To increase the retention of the books, they are made as calendars. And fourth, SMSs is sent every month with the strategies mentioned in the video.
• Control group: People in this group just open a savings account.
The sample was arranged with BancoEstado, an institution with a strong presence in the whole territory, and consists of BancoEstado clients (over 18 years old) recruited in the branches when the Bank executives inform them about the investigation and then offer them to participate. The branches have been chosen considering their vulnerability; the poorer municipalities of the Metropolitan Region. The number of people being considered is 6,000; 1,800 in the Control group, 1,800 in Treatment 1, 1,200 in Treatment 2 and 1,200 in Treatment 3.
As mentioned, the participants are recruited in the branches once they approach the Bank executives with the intention of opening a saving account. Once the clients mention their intention to open a savings account, the executive offers them to participate. If they agree, the executives must handle them the written consent, wait for them to sign it and then handle the baseline survey, which is performed in a tablet device provided by the research team that includes also a presentation video. The randomization and subsequent treatment assignment is made by the same survey software using the last digit of the RUT number (the National Identification Number that is correlated only with the order of birth registration in a short period of time and not related with any socioeconomic or personal characteristic) that was filled as the first question of the survey.