5.4.4 Specialized tools can measure behaviors indicative of financial capability

At the 2012 GYEOC, several organizations presented the different tools and approaches they use to measure youth financial capability. Genesis Analytics and the Citi Foundation discussed how to select indicators that gauge knowledge, skills, attitudes, and finally behavior change around financial capability and financial product use. They break financial capability into discrete thematic areas and propose specific ways to measure knowledge, skills, and behavior in those areas. For example, attitudes related to savings would gauge whether or not a respondent believes they are capable of saving money. Measuring behavior would look at increased net savings.

YouthSave researchers were interested in the following question: Which youth, household, and saving product characteristics are associated with positive savings outcomes? Researchers from the Center for Social Development at Washington University discussed a new tool designed to help answer that questions, the Savings Demand Assessment (SDA) incorporates a one-time demographic survey into savings account opening. Researchers then track savings activity over time to understand how youth and household demographics may affect savings performance over time.

Before developing evaluation protocols consider the following:

  • What are the objectives of the evaluation given the program’s intervention?
  • What are some of the indicators to measure achievement?
  • Which evaluation activities are most appropriate for the type of intervention?
  • Identification of control/comparison as appropriate and sample.
  • Which data collection methodologies will provide the information required?
  • What timeframe will the evaluation period span?

Quality evaluation is a combination of:

  • Proper planning
  • Clearly defined programmatic indicators
  • Methodology that is designed to be representative of the sample
  • Accuracy and precision of measurements is critical
  • Data management and processing
New Tools: Youth Save’s Savings Demand Assessment (SDA)

SDA allows you to assess both account take up (who opens an account) and savings performance and patterns over time.  The demographic questions are asked once, at time of account opening, and the rest of data collection focuses on tracking savings account transactions. This is a unique method that allows one to assess actual saving behavior, rather than self-report.

The Youth Save team designed the tool in collaboration with partner financial institutions who also agreed to provide quarterly reports on all transactions for each account holder that agreed to participate in the research. Since questions are asked in the financial institution when a young person opens an account, the research teams had to determine the most critical demographic variables, limiting themselves to short, simple, closed-ended questions that are comparable across four countries. Of utmost importance was whether the banks were reaching their target population—low-income youth, both in and out of school—and if they were new clients. Thus, some of the key questions included: gender, birthdate, school status, whether the youth ever had a formal bank account, and household indicators including monthly household income. In terms of product and services, the youth were also asked how they heard about the account and their reason for saving. Based on these characteristics, over time it is possible to assess if the targeted youth are opening accounts, if they are saving, and which youth are saving more.

For more information about YouthSave, see http://youthsave.org/.