USA/ITALY – Households with Low Incomes Can Save: Evidence and Lessons from Matched Savings Programs in the US and Italy (Davide Azzolini, Signe-Mary McKernan, Kassandra Martinchek, Urban Institute)

Matched savings programs have the potential to tackle wealth and education inequality by helping households with low incomes increase their savings toward long-term goals. Matched savings programs match personal savings—for every dollar someone saves, the program matches a specified additional amount. Randomized controlled trials on matched savings programs implemented in two different institutional, cultural, and socioeconomic contexts (the United States and Italy) conclude that households with low incomes can save, when provided a quality savings vehicle, incentives (via matched savings), and financial education. Furthermore, the two studies combined provide suggestive evidence that matched savings programs can reduce material hardship and increase homeownership among renters, small business ownership among non–business owners, and postsecondary education attainment among young people.