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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Savings Accounts on Interpersonal Financial Relationships: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural Kenya


The welfare impact of expanding access to bank accounts depends on whether accountscrowd out pre-existing financial relationships, or whether private gains from accounts are shared within social networks. To study the effect of accounts on financial linkages, we provided free bank accounts to a random subset of 885 households. Across households, we document positive spillovers: treatment households become less reliant on grown children and siblingsliving outside their village, and become more supportive of neighbors and friends within their village. Within households, we randomized which spouse was offered an account and find no evidence of negative spillovers.

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