Understanding the Impact of Savings Groups

Date Published: 
Jan 2018
Gash, M.

Systematic review of 53 studies from 2004 to 2017 which measure participant well-being

Over the past decade, funders, practitioners, and researchers have made significant investments to understand the impact of Savings Groups (SGs). During this time, SG programming has evolved considerably. With an increasingly diverse body of programming, assessing the impact of SGs has become more complex. Savings Groups are no longer examined in isolation as they once were. Researchers are tasked with understanding the impact of SGs within integrated programs, with various combinations of components, within diverse settings. With the proliferation of new programming and research, what do we now know about the impact of SGs?

This systematic review of the evidence addresses this question by examining how participation in SGs – within standalone and integrated programs – contributes to specific types of impacts for members and their households. It updates findings from prior studies, and presents new lessons, particularly for health programming and for initiatives that target vulnerable populations. The paper catalogues 53 studies conducted between 2004 and 2017, each documenting primary research that includes measures of well-being. The paper describes and summarizes the evidence, identifies key gaps, and poses questions for future research. This learning brief constitutes a new stage in the ongoing conversation about SG impact.