The unlikely tool that helps the poor save…

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Researchers studied the bank accounts of more than 300,000 people in Mexico.

An answer to boosting savings has come in an unlikely form: plastic.

Using a debit card may actually help some people, particularly those who don’t trust banks, to save more, according to a study that came out this month from researchers at Princeton, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Centro de Investigacion Economica in Mexico City, and was circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private and nonpartisan research organization. The researchers studied more than 340,000 bank accounts of consumers in Mexico who are enrolled in a direct-deposit program to receive government benefits (called “Prospera” and formerly called “Oportunidades”) over the course of four years.

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