Encouraging Savings Behavior through Conditional Cash Transfers: Lessons from Latin America

  • Gillian M. Winkler
Keywords: savings, conditional cash transfers, Latin America, financial inclusion, economic development, program evaluation


Savings, in the form of financial capital held in formal bank accounts, are an important factor in reducing poverty. They can stimulate financial inclusion of the poor, protect against unforeseen shocks, and fund long-term investments in human and economic development. However, the poor have limited options for formal savings. In recent years, governments around the world have begun to incorporate savings into their conditional cash transfer interventions. This paper focuses on such interventions by national and municipal governments in Latin America. While the evidence base is still too small to draw any firm conclusions about short-term benefits or long-term effectiveness, there have been positive outcomes from pilot projects and adapted savings-linked conditional cash transfer programs in some countries. To ensure successful program design and implementation, governments interested in savings-linked conditional cash transfers should make sure to fully assess the political, economic, regulatory, and infrastructural conditions present in their communities.

Author Biography

Gillian M. Winkler

Gillian M. Winkler is a second year Master of Public Administration student at the George Washington University, where she is focusing her studies on international development and social enterprise. She earned a BA in communication with a concentration in international relations from Cornell University in 2006. She currently serves as a research associate in the economic growth division at Creative Associates International, an international development firm.

The author would like to thank Brandon Kruse and Tanya Harris Joshua for their tireless support and leadership. She would especially like to thank her incredible Associate Editor, Anne Kruse, for her exceptional editing skills and keen insights at every stage of the editing process. She thanks Professor Nancy Augustine for her insightful guidance and helpful comments. The author also thanks Professor Joan Dudik-Gayoso for providing the original outlet for this research and for encouraging her to submit this article for publication. Finally the author would like to thank her friends and family for their support and patience as she pursues her professional and academic ambitions, even though this sometimes takes her far from home.