Loose Knots: Strong versus Weak Commitments to Save for Education in Uganda

Dean Karlan, Leigh L. Linden

NBER Working Paper No. 19863
Issued in January 2014
NBER Program(s):   DEV   LE   LS

Commitment devices offer an opportunity to restrict future choices. However, strict commitments may deter participation. Using a school-based commitment savings program for educational expenses in Uganda, we compare an account fully-committed to educational expenses to an account with a weaker commitment (funds withdrawn in cash, rather than a voucher). The weaker commitment generates higher account savings, and when combined with a parental outreach generates higher educational supplies expenditures and 0.11 standard deviation higher math and language test scores. We find no effect from the fully-committed account, and no effect for either account on attendance, enrollment, or non-cognitive skills.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


This paper was revised on April 29, 2016

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19863

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Jamison, Karlan, and Zinman w20135 Financial Education and Access to Savings Accounts: Complements or Substitutes? Evidence from Ugandan Youth Clubs
Barberis w18621 Thirty Years of Prospect Theory in Economics: A Review and Assessment
Andrews, Li, and Lovenheim w19935 Heterogeneous Paths Through College: Detailed Patterns and Relationships with Graduation and Earnings
Angelucci, Karlan, and Zinman w19119 Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco
Guiteras and Jack w19825 Incentives, Selection and Productivity in Labor Markets: Evidence from Rural Malawi
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us