Behavior Change Among Savings Program Participants

Loibl, C., Grinstein-Weiss, M., Zhan, M. & Red Bird, B. (2010). More than a penny saved: Long-term changes in behavior among savings program participants. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 44, (1): 98-126.

Brief Description: The study explored the long-term effectiveness of low-income individuals’ participation in a federally funded matched savings program. To collect data, a survey was mailed to former program participants in Ohio, and compared with the responses of a general low-income population sample. The results document that those who successfully complete the savings program continue to save, even if program completion was years ago. By contrast, household savings of program dropouts and the general population sample were significantly lower.

Implications: The study documents the long-term benefits of a highly structured, rigorous savings program. Eight factors appear to contribute to the success of the savings program: access to financial mainstream products and services, financial information provided in workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions, financial savings incentives, facilitation efforts of a network of financial professionals, social norms to create performance pressure, program selectivity, ample time in the program to allow for relapse, and a fitting program demographic.