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e61 Lounge Session with Dr Guglielmo Briscese | What explains differences in savings? Evidence from a field experiment
7 September @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm AEST
Time & Location
Thursday 7 September 2023, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Online via Zoom
About the event
Dr Guglielmo Briscese will be presenting his paper, What explains differences in savings? Evidence from a field experiment, as part of e61 Institute’s Lounge Sessions. The presentation will run for approximately 45 minutes followed by a 15 minute Q&A. Please note that Dr Briscese will be presenting online.
What explains differences in savings? Evidence from a field experiment
Author: Guglielmo Briscese
Abstract: Many individuals exhibit inadequate savings behaviours, prompting inquiry into the contributing factors and the efficacy of interventions aimed at promoting increased savings. This study employs a survey experiment targeting College Savings Account holders, matching their responses with corresponding administrative records. I show that financial constraints and misbeliefs surrounding effective saving strategies are both contributing factors to lower savings rates. To address this issue, respondents are randomly presented with one of three messages: (i) a behaviourally informed message that matches one of their (mis)beliefs, (ii) a behaviourally-informed message that mismatches it, or (iii) financial literacy resources. Results show that belief-matched messages lead to higher savings balances over a six-month period, particularly at the intensive margins and among individuals with lower income, and financial literacy outperforms belief-mismatched messages. Notably, the enhanced savings are attributed to augmented regular contributions, rather than short-term, one-off increments. Additionally, I find no evidence of crowding out effects. I interpret these results through the lenses of a principal-agent model. A simple cost-benefit analysis highlights the need for strategic minimization of data collection costs for personalized behavioural interventions to be cost-effective.
About the presenter
Dr Guglielmo Briscese is a Research Director and Post-doctoral Fellow at the Harris School of Public Policy of the University of Chicago. His research investigates human capital formation strategies and policies, such as re-employment services and educational investments, using field experiments. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney, and was the APAC Head of Employment at the Sydney office of the UK Behavioural Insights Team for five years prior to relocating to Chicago in 2020. His work includes an RCT in partnership with the Australia Department of Employment (published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management) that informed the redesign of the Australian active labour market policies.