We report the results of a longitudinal intervention with students across five universities in China designed to reduce online consumer debt. Our research design allocates individuals to either a financial literacy treatment, a self-control training program, or a zero-touch control group. Financial education interventions improve test scores on general financial literacy but only marginally affect future online borrowing. Our self-control treatment features detailed tracking of spending and borrowing activity with a third-party app and introspection about individuals’ consumption with a counselor. These sessions reduce future online borrowing, delinquency charges, and borrowing for entertainment reasons - and are driven by the male subjects in the sample. Our results suggest that self-regulation can affect financial behavior in e-commerce platforms.
SAFE Working Paper No. 273