Case Study

The Calendar Study

Problem

The savings rate for health expenses in Kenya is very low. This can be quite devastating when medical emergencies happen, especially for individuals with low income. At this point, it is often too late to find enough money. To address this dilemma, there needs to be a shift in attitudes and norms towards saving more money in advance of health crises.

Research

People often fail to act on important goals unless they are explicit and stay on top-of-mind. We predicted that providing people with financial planning prompts and social proof messages would increase savings in a mobile health wallet.

We created different types of savings calendars (see below) that our partners then distributed to medical camp participants who had just been registered for a new mobile health wallet. Participants were asked to make concrete health savings plans in some of the calendars. Other calendars included different behavioral interventions (strategic planning, self-tracking, and implementation intentions). In addition to a control condition calendar that merely contained photos, we also distributed a calendar that included cartoon panels (but no financial planning prompts), telling the story of a father that used his mobile health wallet funds to successfully treat his ailing daughter at a clinic. After six months, the amount and frequency of deposits made in participants’ mobile health wallets were measured.

Results

The calendar study demonstrates how storytelling and simple planning prompts can increase savings on a mobile health wallet offered to Kenyans. This can help them pay for future health expenses.

Why it matters

Including planning prompts and/or social proof of savings behavior on marketing materials such as calendars can be an effective way to increase health savings behavior.

In Collaboration With