11 February 2013

Transnational Household Finance: A Field Experiment on the Cross-Border Impacts of Financial Education for Migrant Workers

We randomly assigned invitations to a savings-focused financial literacy workshop for migrant Indian workers in Qatar. Via surveys of migrants as well as their wives remaining behind in India, we provide a unique window into financial decision-making in transnational households. We examine impacts on financial decision-making of the migrant workers, migrants’ attempts to influence the financial decision-making of their wives in the home country, migrant beliefs about their wives’ behaviors, and the wives’ actual behaviors. The treatment led to substantial changes in migrant financial practices, and more joint financial decision-making with their wives. Migrants with below-median baseline savings are most responsive to the treatment, increasing their own savings and the remittances sent to their wives. Comparison of treatment effects on financial outcomes reported separately by migrants and wives provides evidence of substantial information asymmetries within transnational households.

by Dean Yang, Ganesh Seshan

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