Large-Scale Financial Education Program Impact Evaluation 2011-2012
To educate consumers about responsible use of financial products, many governments, non-profit organizations and financial institutions have started to provide financial literacy courses. However, participation rates for non-compulsory financial education programs are typically extremely low.
Researchers from the World Bank conducted randomized experiments around a large-scale financial literacy course in Mexico City to understand the reasons for low take-up among a general population, and to measure the impact of this financial education course. The free, 4-hour financial literacy course was offered by a major financial institution and covered savings, retirement, and credit use. Motivated by different theoretical and logistics reasons why individuals may not attend training, researchers randomized the treatment group into different subgroups, which received incentives designed to provide evidence on some key barriers to take-up. These incentives included monetary payments for attendance equivalent to $36 or $72 USD, a one-month deferred payment of $36 USD, free cost transportation to the training location, and a video CD with positive testimonials about the training.
A follow-up survey conducted on clients of financial institutions six months after the course was used to measure the impacts of the training on financial knowledge, behaviors and outcomes, all relating to topics covered in the course.
The baseline dataset documented here is administrative data received from a screener that was used to get people to enroll in the financial course. The follow-up dataset contains data from the follow-up questionnaire.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
The scope of the study includes:
- demographic characteristics of respondents
- household income
- household expenses
- post-training financial knowledge
- savings behavior
- credit card behavior
- loan behavior
Participants in a financial education evaluation
Producers and sponsors
Gabriel Lara Ibarra
Russian Trust Fund for Financial Literacy
Researchers used three different approaches to obtain a sample for the experiment.
The first one was to send 40,000 invitation letters from a collaborating financial institution asking about interest in participating. However, only 42 clients (0.1 percent) expressed interest.
The second approach was to advertise through Facebook, with an ad displayed 16 million times to individuals residing in Mexico City, receiving 119 responses.
The third approach was to conduct screener surveys on streets in Mexico City and outside branches of the partner institution. Together this yielded a total sample of 3,503 people. Researchers divided this sample into a control group of 1,752 individuals, and a treatment group of 1,751 individuals, using stratified randomization. A key variable used in stratification was whether or not individuals were financial institution clients. The analysis of treatment impacts is based on the sample of 2,178 individuals who were financial institution clients.
The treatment group received an invitation to participate in the financial education course and the control group did not receive this invitation. Those who were selected for treatment were given a reminder call the day before their training session, which was at a day and time of their choosing.
72.8 percent of the sample was interviewed in the follow-up survey. The attrition rate was slightly higher in the treatment group (29 percent) than in the control group (25.3 percent).
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The treatment group was contacted by telephone and invited to participate in the financial literacy training program. The overall attendance rate following these invitations for the 1,751 treatment group individuals who had been screened for interest in attending a financial literacy course was only 17.8 percent. In order to investigate the barriers to take-up, the treatment group was divided further into six different groups - one group who was invited to the attend once more but received no further assistance, and the following five booster treatment groups:
1. Offered 1,000 pesos (US$72) for completing the training: participants were given a Walmart gift card of 1,000 pesos if they attended,
2. Offered 500 pesos (US$36) gift card for completing the training,
3. Offered 500 pesos (US$36) gift card that they would receive one month after completing the training,
4. Offered a free taxi ride to and from the course location,
5. Provided a video CD containing positive testimonials from people who had attended the course.
The attendance rate after these efforts was 28.1 percent for clients of financial institutions, and 18.1 percent for non-clients. Given budget constraints and low power to detect impacts on the non-clients, the follow-up survey to measure impact was only administered to the 2,178 individuals who were clients of a financial institution.
Innovations for Poverty Action Mexico
The follow-up survey was conducted between February and July 2012 to measure post-training financial knowledge, behavior and outcomes. The questionnaire was relatively short (about 15 minutes) to encourage participation.
Interviewers first attempted to conduct the follow-up survey over the phone. If the person did not respond to the survey during the first attempt, researchers offered one a 500 pesos (US$36) Walmart gift card for completing the survey during the second attempt. If the person was still unavailable for the phone interview, a surveyor visited his/her house to conduct a face-to-face interview. If the participant was not at home, the surveyor delivered a letter with information about the study and instructions for how to participate in the survey and to receive the Walmart gift card. Surveyors made two more attempts (three attempts in total) to conduct a face-to-face interview if a respondent was not at home.
DECFP, World Bank
The use of this dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the identification of the Primary Investigator (including country name)
- the full title of the survey and its acronym (when available), and the year(s) of implementation
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download (for datasets disseminated online)
David McKenzie, Miriam Bruhn, Gabriel Lara Ibarra, World Bank. Large-Scale Financial Education Program Impact Evaluation 2011-2012. Ref. MEX_2011_LFEPIE_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
DDI Document ID
Development Data Group
Development Research Group
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
v01 (August 2014)