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India: Microcredit and savings

Rethinking microcredit: borrowing as a disciplined way to save?

The Nobel Peace Prize celebrated the potential of microcredit to unleash the productive potential of small-scale entrepreneurs in need of small loans. Research from rural India suggests that women who are less able to discipline themselves in their financial behavior may voluntarily use microcredit as a saving tool. A loan can be used as a means of saving for lumpy expenses, such as education for their children or house repair. If so, there is cause for rethinking microfinance and focusing on microsavings that would enable the poor to manage their money at less expense.

India: Patience of men and women

Women in India are more patient than men. Why?

Women are often observed to make more future-oriented decisions than men, especially if these choices concern children. But what drives the difference? To find the answer, Michal Bauer and Julie Chytilová measured patience using an economic experiment with monetary rewards on a sample of 573 villagers in India. Their results show that women with children are more able to delay gratification compared to men or women without children. The results imply that empowerment of women may not only lead to more dignity for women, but could also lead to more future-oriented financial decisions by families.

Georgia and Sierra Leone: War and prosociality

Effects of War on Social Preferences: Prosociality and Parochialism

Do humans who have experienced war become more selfish, or are they more „groupish“? Michal Bauer, Alessandra Cassar, Julie Chytilová and Joseph Henrich study how exposure to war affects social preferences. Using simple economic experiments with hundreds of children and adults in the Republic of Georgia (Caucasus) and Sierra Leone (Africa), they show that experiencing war during childhood and adolescence increases both within-group egalitarianism and parochialism – a tendency to favor members of one’s own group to outsiders. These effects seem to be persistent and are observed from six months after a war to ten years later. The findings are important for understanding several phenomena from post-conflict countries, such as rapid recoveries in some, or persistent parochialism and cyclical conflicts in others.

Uganda: Education and patience

More schooling leads to higher patience

Individual patience is important for economic development, as those who are willing to delay gratification by forgoing current consumption can invest more for the future. Michal Bauer and Julie Chytilová measured patience among villagers in Uganda and link these results with information on access to schools and serious disruptions of the Ugandan education system during the era of the dictator Idi Amin. The results show a positive effect of schooling on patience and suggest that education may promote development through a new channel: by shaping individual patience.

Czech Republic: Education and child‘s cooperation

Education of parents and gaps in co-operative tendencies of their children

Are social preferences — an important ingredient of cooperation — born or do parents play a role in their formation? Michal Bauer, Julie Chytilová and Barbara Pertold-Gebicka use economic experiments in the Czech Republic to answer this question. While small children behave selfishly, as they grow up they become more prosocial. Important gaps emerge early in life — children from families with low socio-economic status are more selfish, more spiteful and less generous. The findings may be of interest for those who design interventions that target children from disadvantaged environment.

Slovakia: Microsavings (ongoing)

Can Deadlines and Reminders Help the Poor to Save?

Can commitment features of a saving product increase the savings? To answer this question, Julie Chytilová and Tomáš Želinský use experimental methods to study financial behavior of very poor clients of a micro-saving product in Eastern Slovakia. Randomly generated groups of clients either have or have not a monthly deadline on their saving deposits, and are or are not reminded to save. The study also allows to test whether these features of a saving product help especially those people who face self-discipline problems. The findings can be useful for designing suitable saving products for the poor.

Uganda: Motivation and education (ongoing)

Does comparison with others affect student’s aspirations, performance and stress? Evidence from Uganda

The question how to motivate students to improve their academic performance has been in place for decades, not only in developed but also in developing countries. Should we motivate students with financial or non-financial rewards? Or is it enough to rely on their competitiveness and curiosity? Dagmara Katreniakova studies responses to different types of motivations and feedback aimed to increase performance among several thousands students in villages of Uganda. Students are repeatedly examined over one academic year and many outcomes such as performance, stress and aspirations are studied. The findings should contribute to vivid discussion regarding the usefulness of different motivation tools in education.

Sierra Leone: Social preferences and environmental quality (ongoing)

Social Preferences and Environmental Quality: Evidence from School Children in Sierra Leone

Health has been shown to affect both physical and cognitive development, but what about non-cognitive development? Through economic experiments with children in Sierra Leone, Giovanna D’Adda and Ian Levely analyze the effects of two environmental factors that may affect health: rainfall level and access to clean water. Children born into healthier environment are more generous, more likely to prefer socially efficient outcomes and more willing to accept inequality. As older children are also more likely to have these qualities, the results suggest that children who are born into healthier environments have a faster rate of social development.

Uganda: Trust and child soldiers (ongoing)

Trust and re-integration of former child soldiers in Northern Uganda: An experimental approach

In many civil wars rebel groups abduct youth and force them to take part in combat, often against their own communities. Are former child-soldiers “socially damaged” with little hope for reintegration? Or do they feel guilty and make special effort to gain back trust? Do other people mistrust them? With the aim to answer these questions, Michal Bauer, Ian Levely and Nathan Fiala designed a set of experiments and surveys implemented among villagers in Northern Uganda. These experiments may shed light on whether those abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the past are less trustworthy and whether they are viewed differently from their peers by others. The findings of this research may help to understand challenges of re-integration of child soldiers, which is a pre-requisite for a stable development of post-conflict societies.

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