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Chowa, G. | Despard, M. | Osei-Akoto, I.
2012 | Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal

Youth saving patterns and performance in Ghana (YouthSave Research Brief 12-36)

Financial Inclusion

If provided an opportunity to save via formal financial services, will youth participate? This is one of the fundamental questions being asked by YouthSave, a four-country study targeted for young people ages 12 to 18 living predominantly in low-income households. Youth do save informally and, given an opportunity, may also participate in formal banking services (UNCDF, 2011). However, such opportunities are minimal. On the other hand, the limited research available suggests that financial inclusion has important youth development effects and deserves greater study (Chowa & Ansong, 2010; Deshpande & Zimmerman, 2010; Elliott, 2012; Scanlon & Adams, 2009; Ssewamala & Ismayilova, 2009). YouthSave is a pioneering project designed to increase savings and development among low-income youth in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. The goals of YouthSave research are to measure the uptake, savings outcomes, experiences, and impacts of Youth Savings Accounts (YSAs) on clients and financial institutions.

In Ghana, a rigorous research design that includes a control group, with quantitative and qualitative evidence, has been implemented to assess the impact of savings accounts on youth development and asset accumulation.

This research brief focuses on the saving attitudes and behavior of youth in the YouthSave Ghana Experiment. Many youth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) save or try to save part of their income—usually for school materials and fees, clothing, entertainment, and emergencies—by using informal methods such as cash boxes and hiding places (UNCDF, 2011). When given access to savings products, incentives, and support, youth in SSA are also able to save using formal methods (Chowa & Ansong, 2010; Erulkar & Chong, 2005; Mason, Nam, Clancy, Kim, & Loke, 2010; Ssewamala & Ismayilova, 2009). Still, little is known about the saving attitudes and behavior of youth in SSA. Research in YouthSave is anticipated to fill some of these gaps.

Chowa, G., Despard, M., & Osei-Akoto, I. (2012). Youth saving patterns and performance in Ghana (YouthSave Research Brief 12-36). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.