The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Earned Income As a Predictor of Youth Saving in Ghana

Thursday, January 16, 2014: 2:00 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103A Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Mathieu R. Despard, MSW, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Gina, A. Chowa, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background and Purpose:

Saving money and accumulating assets promotes access to educational and entrepreneurial opportunities among youth (Chowa, Ansong, & Masa, 2010; Elliott, Jung, Kim, & Chowa, 2010). Despite experiencing barriers to saving, such as high unemployment (World Bank, 2009) and lack of access to financial services (Hirschland, 2009; Nagarajan, 2005), youth are able to save money when given the opportunity and support to do so (Chowa & Ansong, 2010; Crowley, 2011; Erulkar & Chong, 2005; Ssewamala & Ismayilova, 2009). However, little empirical evidence exists concerning predictors of saving and asset accumulation among youth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). To help fill this knowledge gap, this study examined predictors of both the likelihood that youth in Ghana save money and the amount that they save on a regular basis.


This study uses data from the baseline YouthSave Questionnaire for Youth (YSQ-Y), which was administered to junior high school students in eight out of 10 regions of Ghana in May 2011 by researchers from the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research of the University of Ghana. The sample is comprised of 3,623 students ages 12 to 19 and an adult caregiver. Multivariate analyses with covariance control were conducted to examine the relationship between natural log-transformed monthly savings and various predictors using both Ordinary Least Squares regression with robust standard errors to adjust for clustering effects in schools and Weighted Least Squares (WLS) regression to adjust for heteroscedasticity. Logistic regression with robust standard errors was used to assess youths’ likelihood of being a saver based on various predictors.


Most youth (64%) set aside money on a regular basis, with monthly median savings of 8 GHS (about 4 USD).  Youth who have earned income are 11 times more likely to save compared to those who do not have  earned income, all other things being equal (OR=11.59, p<.001). The probability of being a saver were also greater among youth whose parents or guardians talk with them frequently (OR=1.78, p<.001) or occasionally (OR=1.45, p<.01) about how to save money. Having earned income was also a significant predictor for amount saved each month (β=.313, p<.001). However, having parents or guardians that talk with youth about how to save was not a significant predictor for amount saved each month.

Conclusions and Implications: Having earned income is strongly associated with likelihood and amounts of saving among youth, mirroring empirical evidence from studies of U.S. youth (Alhabeeb, 1996; Danes & Brewton, n.d.; Kim, LaTaillade, & Kim, 2011). Interventions that aim to promote savings and asset accumulation among youth might consider helping youth who are legally eligible to engage in income generating activities to do so, not just financial education and access to financial services. However, in SSA countries like Ghana where many youth do not matriculate to secondary school (UNDP, 2011), practitioners might compliment asset accumulation interventions with efforts to help youth navigate alternative pathways of educational attainment.