Saturday, November 8, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Navajo (Convention Center)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Gina Chowa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Panel Chairs: Gina Chowa, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Discussants: Terri Friedline, Kansas University
Purpose: Youth policy focuses on outcomes that have historically been perceived to impact the building blocks for youth development in resource-limited countries. These building blocks include education, health, and employment. Although scientific inquiry is yet to unlock the answers to optimal youth development pathways, evidence suggests the importance of education, health, and workforce development for youth. In resource-limited countries, this challenge is more daunting as researchers and practitioners discover an array of factors that exacerbates underachievement in education, ill health and unemployment for youth. Finding cross-sectoral solutions that will begin to address these challenges will contribute immensely to progress in youth development globally, particularly in resource-limited countries. Current evidence shows that youth savings is emerging as a potential pathway to facilitate young people’s progress in education, employment and health. This panel will discuss findings from a pioneering multi-country, longitudinal study on youth savings. These findings may have implications for development of a cross-sectoral policy that can address multiple dimensions of youth development.
Method: YouthSave is a five-year study that investigates the potential of savings accounts as a tool for youth development and financial inclusion in developing countries. Savings accounts are offered by financial institutions, and researchers are assessing uptake and use of the accounts, as well as their impact on youth outcomes. Data on banking transactions are collected. In addition, a cluster randomized study of 6,252 youth in 100 schools in Ghana aims to investigate impacts of savings on educational, health, psychosocial and financial capability of youth and economic wellbeing of their families. In the experiment, fifty schools were assigned to the treatment condition, and another 50 schools were assigned to the control condition.
Results: 85,000 youth have opened savings accounts in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. In less than one year, youth have saved USD 519,127 in all the countries, with average savings balances of USD 248 in Colombia, USD 91 in Nepal, USD 26 in Ghana, and USD 10 in Kenya. In the experiment, findings suggest positive outcomes. For instance, plans for tertiary education are associated with higher academic scores. Youth also attend school more often when they expect to advance to higher education levels. Most youth (>80%) also have negative attitudes toward risky sexual behaviors and positive attitudes toward HIV prevention. The impact of YouthSave on multiple dimensions of youth development, including education, health, psychosocial, and financial capability will be reported.
Conclusion: YouthSave is an example of a structural intervention that can positively influence development outcomes. Evidence suggests strategies that promote access to financial services and accumulation of financial resources may encourage young people to change or maintain positive behaviors. These strategies have also been found to facilitate creation of positive future images, which in turn, encourage youth to apply themselves in school and avoid risky behaviors. Study findings will offer progressive ideas for developing policies that promote positive youth development in resource- limited countries. Findings will also determine whether providing access to savings accounts helps youth develop important life skills, including financial capability.