Learning the Impact of Financial Education When Take-Up Is Low
Financial education programs are increasingly offered by governments, nonprofits, and financial institutions. However, voluntary participation rates in such programs are often very low, posing a severe challenge for randomized experiments attempting to measure their impact.
This study uses a large experiment on more than 100,000 credit card clients in Mexico. The study shows how the richness of financial data allows combining non-experimental methods with the experiment to yield credible measures of impact, even with take-up rates below 1%. The findings show that a financial education workshop and personalized coaching result in a higher likelihood of paying credit cards on time, and of making more than the minimum payment, but do not reduce spending, resulting in higher profitability for the bank.