Increasing Savings by Beneficiaries of Mexico's Conditional Cash Transfer Program

The Mexican government is planning to pay all conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs by direct deposit into savings accounts opened for this purpose under beneficiaries’ names. Specifically, the Mexican CCT program, called OPORTUNIDADES, will pay beneficiaries by depositing bimonthly cash transfers into savings accounts managed by Bansefi, a public micro-savings institution.

The government (and the researchers) expects this program will increase savings among beneficiaries, since they will receive a constant flow of income into their accounts through the CCT. The features of these accounts are under discussion, including whether they should have ATM cards and whether they should have a commitment savings component.

Enrique Seira’s project, with Paul Gertler, examines existing non-experimental data from OPORTUNIDADES beneficiaries to evaluate the effect of the following two interventions on formal savings: (1) awarding ATM cards; and (2) offering a commitment savings device. The findings will allow the researchers and the Mexican government to gain a richer understanding about how best to design savings products.

Since CCT programs exist worldwide and their operation is similar, this intervention can be scaled up to other countries as well.

Research Questions: 
  • What is the effect of a "commitment savings" product on formal savings behavior?
  • What is the effect of free ATM cards awarded with savings accounts on formal savings behavior?
Data Notes: 

Data Utilized:

  • Savings account panel data from OPORTUNIDADES beneficiaries 


Paul Gertler (Innovations for Poverty Action)