Enhancing the Saving for Every Child Program Through Behavioral Interventions

Last registered on November 01, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Enhancing the Saving for Every Child Program Through Behavioral Interventions
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008456
Initial registration date
October 28, 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
November 01, 2021, 11:31 AM EDT

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

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Washington University in St. Louis

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-10-31
End date
2022-09-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The Saving for Every Child Program (SECP) is a universal child savings account program in Israel administered by the National Insurance Institute of Israel (NII). The government opens a savings account for every newborn, and the government deposits approximately NIS 51 (New Israeli Shekel, equivalent to USD 15.5) per month to these accounts. Parents can transfer additional funds from a separate child allowance into the long-term savings account and select a specific savings account for their children.

This study will examine how the small changes in letters and text messages that the government sends to parents of each newborn in Israel will affect parents’ decisions to enroll in and engage with the SECP. We will randomly assign parents to the control group that will be exposed to the current SECP design or one of several treatment conditions, where the design of each condition will be informed by behavioral economics. We expect that programmatic changes in the SECP communication channels will encourage parents to make program-related decisions that will result in greater long-term savings for their children.

We expect that the study will have significant implications for the design and implementation of the current program as well as savings and asset-building programs more generally.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Grinstein-Weiss, Michal. 2021. "Enhancing the Saving for Every Child Program Through Behavioral Interventions." AEA RCT Registry. November 01. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8456
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
As part of the experiment, we will randomly assign parents of newborns to the control or one of several treatment groups.

Parents in the control group will be exposed to the program in a business as usual way. These parents will receive the current communication regarding the Saving for Every Child Program (SECP) from the National Insurance Institute of Israel (NII). The current communication includes (i) a letter from the NII that informs parents about the eligibility for the SECP and (ii) two text messages sent to newborns’ mothers: the first is sent out 3 months after childbirth and the second is sent out 5.5 months after childbirth. The messages are sent out only to parents who have not made an active choice regarding their children’s savings accounts.

We expect to have a total of 10 treatment groups. Each group will receive a variation of a letter and a text message from the NII informing parents about the SECP. Depending on the group assignment, the letters will include the current letter’s text and design, simplified letter’s text and design, a letter containing graphical presentation of the program’s benefits, an attachment describing the program in Arabic, and a modified text and design of the envelope in which the letter is sent out. Furthermore, text messages will vary in their design, timing, and recipients depending on the group. Wording of the text messages will include either the current text or an updated text informed by the principles of behavioral economics. Timing of sending the text messages will include either the current timing (2 messages within the first 6 months since childbirth) or an updated timing (6 messages within the first 6 months since childbirth). Text messages will be sent out either only to newborns’ mothers or both parents/caretakers.
Intervention Start Date
2021-10-31
Intervention End Date
2022-09-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The study’s primary outcomes will be related to the enrollment and participation in the program. In particular, we explore the following primary outcomes:

(1) Active program enrollment: this means that rather than relying on the program’s defaults, parents make active choices regarding their children’s savings accounts.

(2) Doubling the savings: this means that rather than receiving the default NIS 51 (USD 15.5) from the government, parents decide to transfer an additional NIS 51 (USD 15.5) from a separate child allowance into the children’s savings accounts.

(3) Selection of savings account track: this means that parents actively decide to invest their children’s funds into one of available account tracks, such as high-, medium-, or low-yield investment accounts, one of several bank accounts, or one of two religious funds (Sharia or Halakhic).

(4) Total amount of savings accumulated in SECP accounts in the first 6 months since childbirth.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
N/A

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
In addition to the primary outcomes, we will examine any change in the SECP enrollment choices for other children. This means that we will explore whether parents make a decision to double the amount of savings deposits and to change a savings account track for additional children (e.g., older siblings who were not the direct subjects of the intervention). Furthermore, we will use data from a follow-up survey to examine parents’ familiarity with the program and program features, attitudes towards the SECP, and the ways in which the SECP funds are affecting balance sheet characteristics and other economic outcomes for recipients. These outcomes may include liquid savings amounts, unsecured debt, college savings (outside the SECP), and life satisfaction/optimism. The survey is currently under development and the exact secondary outcomes will be described once the survey is developed.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
N/A

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
As part of the experiment, parents of newborns will be randomly assigned to the control or one of several treatment groups. As described above, each group will receive different combinations of SECP-related letters and text messages from the NII.

The sample will consist of mothers of nearly all children born in Israel between 10/31/2021 and 03/30/2022. We will exclude several groups of parents, such as those who have an outstanding balance to the NII, those who gave birth outside the hospital, and new immigrants with the children under the age of 6 months. In total, we expect that approximately 52,000 parents will participate in the experiment.

The study will include a total of 11 experimental groups: the control group and 8 treatment groups will include 4,000 parents per group, and 2 remaining treatment groups will include 8,000 parents each. These remaining groups include (i) an intervention that includes an attachment describing the program in Arabic (along with the current design of a text message) and (ii) an intervention that sends out text messages to both parents/caretakers of a newborn (along with the updated design of a letter).

We will use NII’s administrative data to analyze study outcomes. The outcomes will be tracked over a period of six months since childbirth, since this is the period during which parents can make active SECP decisions.

Administrative data will be supplemented with survey data of a random sample of experiment participants.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual level (mothers of eligible children).
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
The treatment is not clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The total expected number of observations will include 52,000 parents.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
The control group and 8 treatment groups are expected to include 4,000 parents per group. Two remaining treatment groups are expected to include 8,000 parents per group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Assuming a Type I error of 0.05 and a Type II error of 0.2 (i.e., power of 0.8), the sample size of 4,000 parents per group is expected to allow us to detect the difference between the two experimental groups of approximately 0.06 standard deviations.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Reichman University’s Ivcher School of Psychology Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2021-10-06
IRB Approval Number
P_2021147