DP9832 | Loose Knots:Strong versus Weak Commitments to Save for Education in Uganda

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Commitment devices offer an opportunity to restrict future choices. However, strict commitments may deter participation. Using a school-based commitment savings program for children to save for educational expenses in Uganda, we compare an account fully-committed to school expenses to an account with a weaker commitment (funds withdrawn in cash, rather than a voucher). Children save more in the weaker commitment treatment arm, and when combined with parental outreach, spend more on educational supplies and score 0.11 standard deviations higher on math and language test scores. We find no effect from the fully-committed account, and no effect for either account on attendance, enrollment, or non-cognitive skills.