- Financial literacy among the young: evidence and implications for consumer policy (2010)
- We examined financial literacy among the young using the most recent wave of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We showed that financial literacy is low; fewer than one-third of young adults possess basic knowledge of interest rates, inflation, and risk diversification. Financial literacy was strongly related to sociodemographic characteristics and family financial sophistication. Specifically, a college-educated male whose parents had stocks and retirement savings was about 45 percentage points more likely to know about risk diversification than a female with less than a high school education whose parents were not wealthy. These findings have implications for consumer policy. JEL Classification: D91
- Financial literacy : an essential tool for informed consumer choice? (2008)
- Increasingly, individuals are in charge of their own financial security and are confronted with ever more complex financial instruments. However, there is evidence that many individuals are not well-equipped to make sound saving decisions. This paper demonstrates widespread financial illiteracy among the U.S. population, particularly among specific demographic groups. Those with low education, women, African-Americans, and Hispanics display particularly low levels of literacy. Financial literacy impacts financial decision-making. Failure to plan for retirement, lack of participation in the stock market, and poor borrowing behavior can all be linked to ignorance of basic financial concepts. While financial education programs can result in improved saving behavior and financial decision-making, much can be done to improve these programs’ effectiveness.
- Debt literacy, financial experiences, and overindebtedness (2009)
- We analyze a national sample of Americans with respect to their debt literacy, financial experiences, and their judgments about the extent of their indebtedness. Debt literacy is measured by questions testing knowledge of fundamental concepts related to debt and by selfassessed financial knowledge. Financial experiences are the participants’ reported experiences with traditional borrowing, alternative borrowing, and investing activities. Overindebtedness is a self-reported measure. Overall, we find that debt literacy is low: only about one-third of the population seems to comprehend interest compounding or the workings of credit cards. Even after controlling for demographics, we find a strong relationship between debt literacy and both financial experiences and debt loads. Specifically, individuals with lower levels of debt literacy tend to transact in high-cost manners, incurring higher fees and using high-cost borrowing. In applying our results to credit cards, we estimate that as much as one-third of the charges and fees paid by less knowledgeable individuals can be attributed to ignorance. The less knowledgeable also report that their debt loads are excessive or that they are unable to judge their debt position. JEL Classification: D14, D91
- How ordinary consumers make complex economic decisions: financial literacy and retirement readiness (2010)
- This paper explores who is financially literate, whether people accurately perceive their own economic decision-making skills, and where these skills come from. Self-assessed and objective measures of financial literacy can be linked to consumers’ efforts to plan for retirement in the American Life Panel, and causal relationships with retirement planning examined by exploiting information about respondent financial knowledge acquired in school. Results show that those with more advanced financial knowledge are those more likely to be retirement-ready.