Effective, Low cost, and Non-Coercive? An Assessment of a test of Nudging on Savings Group Behavior in Malawi
Between 2017 and 2019, World Relief (WR) and Grassroots Finance (GF) launched an experiment in Dedza District of Malawi. The two partners wanted to see if nudges, that is, non-coercive, low or no-cost changes to the ways organizations present information, could lead to desired changes in the program. The experiment showed that carefully selected and deliberate modifications to the messages that members and prospective members received correlated with, first, substantial changes in inclusion; second, a remarkable growth in membership; and finally, increased support to Village Agents by group members. It would be difficult to explain these changes as coming from causes other than the nudges. The program was low-cost and produced no known negative outcomes. While long-term effects and replicability will need to be determined, the initial test showed that nudging holds promise of being replicated for other economic development programs, and even programs in other sectors.