Banking the unbanked? Evidence from three countries

Pascaline Dupas, Dean Karlan, Jonathan Robinson, Diego Ubfal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17, 10, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits in treatment accounts were sizable among users, corresponding to the seventy-ninth, ninety-first, and ninety-sixth percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no discernible intention-to-treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes, though we cannot reject large effect sizes for active users. Results suggest that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably on average.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-297
Number of pages41
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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