Financial diaries and women's money management behavior: evidence from a randomized controlled trial. WP No. 8/21

Financial diaries and women's money management behavior: evidence from a randomized controlled trial

Abstract

Many women in developing countries have primary responsibility for daily decisions about household expenditure, while their husbands work outside the home. Investment in financial education has long been advocated as an important way to improve the financial wellbeing of women, including their bargaining power within the home, but it can also be relatively expensive to administer. Maintaining a financial diary potentially represents a less intensive, simplified, alternative to financial education in improving female financial wellbeing. We conduct a randomized con- trolled trial among women in rural Bangladesh to compare the efficacy of teaching a standard financial curriculum with maintaining a financial diary. We find that keeping a financial diary to track spending is largely as effective as financial education in improving financial test scores and downstream financial behaviour. Using incentivized experiments, we also show that participants who maintained a financial
diary exhibited significantly higher household bargaining power. The findings suggest that maintaining a financial diary can be a cost-effective alternative to financial education in improving the financial wellbeing of women in developing countries.

Authors

  • Asad Islam
  • Vy Nguyen
  • Russell Smyth
  • Zabid Iqbal

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