Prices or knowledge? What drives demand for financial services in emerging markets?

Authors: Cole, Shawn, Thomas Sampson, and Bilal Zia
Publication: The Journal of Finance 66, no. 6 (2011): 1933-1967

Abstract: Financial development is critical for growth, but its microdeterminants are not well understood. We test leading theories of low demand for financial services in emerging markets, combining novel survey evidence from Indonesia and India with a field experiment. We find a strong correlation between financial literacy and behavior. However, a financial education program has modest effects, increasing demand for bank accounts only for those with limited education or financial literacy. In contrast, small subsidies greatly increase demand. A follow-up survey confirms these findings, demonstrating that newly opened accounts remain open and in use 2 years after the intervention.

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