Does providing women living in rural areas with innovative financial interventions change household expenditure and saving behaviour?

Asad Islam and Russell Smyth

It has been argued that standardized financial training is too complex and rigid to help less educated individuals improve their financial decisions. Existing literature suggests a weak, if not zero, impact of standard financial education on improving financial outcomes.

We use a Randomized Controlled Trial to assess whether either a simplified less intensive financial treatment or a tailored ‘just-in-time’ financial treatment can perform better than traditional financial education in overcoming financial inclusion barriers for young women in rural areas. The simplified treatment will entail participant’s self-recording daily cash transfer using a financial diary. The tailored ‘just-in-time’ treatment will involve provision of advice from a financial counsellor on financial matters, tailored to the participant’s specific financial needs. This project has potential to contribute significantly to the academic literature on ‘what works’ in improving financial literacy and offer practical implications for assisting to enhance the financial well-being of women in developing countries.

The research is supported by the International Growth Centre and Monash University’s Faculty of Business and Economics research grant.