Publication Date

May 2012

Author(s)

Kea Turner, Kim Manturuk

Client/Funder

Ford Foundation

Individual, institutional and structural determinants impact the decision-making processes that guide the savings behavior of low-income participants in $aveNYC, a matched savings account program designed to capitalize on the tax refund.

Policymakers and practitioners have recently focused on matched savings-account programs as a way to build assets and financial capacity among low-income households.

This article examines the experiences of low-income participants in $aveNYC, a matched savings account program designed to capitalize on the tax refund. The research examines how individual, institutional and structural determinants impact the decision-making processes that guide participants’ savings behavior.

Results show that individual factors, such as obligation to family, upbringing and employment experiences, affect participants’ attitudes toward savings and their confidence in their ability to save. Institutional factors, such as incentives, disincentives, and organizational culture shape participants trust in financial institutions and their attitudes towards participating in savings programs. Finally, structural factors, such as employment loss, financial strain, and the economy, impact participants’ perceived financial control and ultimately their savings behavior.