An Algorithmic Introduction to Savings Circles
Rotating savings and credit associations (roscas) are informal financial organizations common in settings where communities have reduced access to formal financial institutions. In a rosca, a fixed group of participants regularly contribute sums of money to a pot. This pot is then allocated periodically using lottery, aftermarket, or auction mechanisms. Roscas are empirically well-studied in economics. They are, however, challenging to study theoretically due to their dynamic nature. Typical economic analyses of roscas stop at coarse ordinal welfare comparisons to other credit allocation mechanisms, leaving much of roscas' ubiquity unexplained. In this work, we take an algorithmic perspective on the study of roscas. Building on techniques from the price of anarchy literature, we present worst-case welfare approximation guarantees. We further experimentally compare the welfare of outcomes as key features of the environment vary. These cardinal welfare analyses further rationalize the prevalence of roscas. We conclude by discussing several other promising avenues.
Abebe, Rediet, Adam Eck, Christian Ikeokwu, and Samuel Taggart. 2022. "An Algorithmic Introduction to Savings Circles." Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence 36(5): 4744-4751.
Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence
AAAI-22 co-located with the Thirty-Fourth Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference (IAAI-22) and the Twelfth AAAI Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-22).
Game theory and economic paradigms (GTEP)