BREAD Working Paper No. 552, December 2018

Saving for Multiple Financial Needs: Evidence from Malawi

Shilpa Aggarwal, Valentina Brailovskaya, Jonathan Robinson


We test whether multiple labeled savings accounts affects savings decisions and downstream outcomes in a field experiment with 481 entrepreneurs in urban Malawi. Treatment respondents received either one or multiple accounts, while a control group received nothing. Multiple accounts increased savings in treatment accounts by about 30%. Savings accounts had sizeable effects on a number of outcomes, including labor supply, farming decisions, household expenditures, land purchases, credit extended to customers, and interpersonal transfers. However, we find no evidence that multiple accounts had larger downstream effects than single accounts.

Keywords: savings, liquidity, labeling, mental accounting, lockboxes, goal-setting

JEL classification codes: D14, L26, O12, O16

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