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, if severe restrictions deter participation, weaker restrictions may be a more effective means of changing behavior. We test this using a school-based commitment savings device for educational expenses in Uganda. We compare an account fully-committed to educational expenses to an account in which savings are available for cash withdrawal but intended for educational expenses. The weaker commitment generates increased savings in the program accounts and when combined with a parent outreach program, higher expenditures on educational supplies. It also increases scores on an exam covering language and math skills by 0.14 standard deviations. We find no effect for the fully-committed account, and we find 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.


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