Financial literacy

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  • The OECD International Network on Financial Education (INFE) has developed a survey instrument that can be used to capture the financial literacy of people from very different backgrounds in a wide range of countries. The questionnaire is designed to be used in face-to-face or telephone interviews. The survey comprises good practice questions drawn from existing financial literacy questionnaires.

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  • One method of addressing personal fi nances among students of higher education is through college- and university-based fi nancial education programs. In recent years, there has been a growth in the number of these programs, which vary widely in their composition. Some schools offer individual fi nancial counseling services for students, while others provide presentations and workshops relative to personal fi nance topics; others provide websites with links to fi nancial content.

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  • We used descriptive statistics to examine demographic variables related to reading as well as to compare reading outcomes for the two groups of students, those instructed only in English and those instructed first in Spanish and then transitioned into English reading instruction.

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  • The questions can only provide meaningful information about the level of financial literacy of individuals and populations if they are sufficiently varied to differentiate between high and low achievers by combining a mixture of easy and more difficult problems. The analysis of responses to each question shows that the spread of difficulty in the core questionnaire is appropriate; differentiating well both within countries and across countries.

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  • New numbers from the College Board show that federal student loan disbursements—the total amount borrowed by students and received by schools—in the 2009–2010 academic years grew about 14% over the previous year to $96.8 billion. At the student level, class of 2009 college seniors carried an average of $25,000 in students loans (College Board 2010). The amount of money students borrow has long been on the rise. With recent economic downfalls, this is even more of a problem than in the past.

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  • Two links must hold for conventional financial education to be effective. Education must improve relevant knowledge and understanding (financial literacy) and better knowledge must change behaviour. Unscrambling causality from correlation is hard. The best empirical work finds that financial education is not likely to have major lasting effects on knowledge and especially on behaviour. Psychology may be the main driver of what people actually do.

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  • Attitudes and preferences are considered to be an important element of financial literacy. If people have a rather negative attitude towards saving for their future, for example, it is argued that they will be less inclined to undertake such behaviour. Similarly, if they prefer to prioritise short-term wants then they are unlikely to provide themselves with emergency savings or to make longer term financial plans. The financial literacy survey includes three attitude statements to gauge respondents’ attitudes towards money and planning for the future 3 .

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  • Whilst it is illustrative to focus on each component of financial literacy in turn, it is also valuable to consider how they combine. We have done this in several ways. First, a simple table showing the proportion of the population achieving high scores on each component illustrates important variations (Table 4). In 8 of the countries surveyed, a larger proportion of the population achieved a high knowledge score than a high behaviour score; indicating that levels of financial literacy in these countries are higher in terms of knowledge than behaviour.

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  • It is clear that levels of financial literacy vary within countries and it is therefore useful to know more about how they vary across particular socio-economic groups. The findings of analysis by socio-demographics show that women have much lower levels of financial knowledge than men in almost all of the countries studied (Hungary being the exception). So for example, whilst 67% of men in the UK gained a score of 6 or more on the knowledge measure, just 40% of women achieved the same; in Germany the corresponding percentages are 67% and 50%. Women are also less likely...

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  • Financial education is the process by which individuals improve their understanding of financial products and concepts; and through information, instruction and/or objective advice develop the skills and confidence to become more aware of financial risks and opportunities, to make informed choices, to know where to go for help, and to take other effective actions to improve their financial well-being and protection (OECD 2005).

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  • Income tax rates are at the center of many recent policy debates over taxes. Some policymakers argue that raising tax rates, especially on higher income taxpayers, to increase tax revenues is part of the solution for long-term debt reduction. For example, in the 112th Congress the Senate passed the Middle Class Tax Cut (S. 3412), which would allow the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts to expire for taxpayers with income over $250,000 ($200,000 for single taxpayers). Other policymakers argue that maintaining low tax rates is necessary to foster economic growth.

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  • Many employers have tried to educate their employees to make better decisions or supplied tools to help them improve their choices. The empirical evidence does not suggest that these methods are, in and of themselves, adequate solutions to the problems. The same large employer discussed above that offered its employees the chance to switch from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan offered its employees a financial education program free of charge. The employer measured the effectiveness of this education by administering a before-and-after test of financial literacy.

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  • The disclosure table is the heart of the prototype. It addresses two of the questions: “How do we ensure that consumers can understand the information about financial sharing policies and their personal information?” and “How do we ensure that consumers can compare sharing practices across financial institutions?” At the simplest level, the disclosure table shows what the individual financial institution is sharing, especially through the yes/no columns.

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  • In most of the countries surveyed, women are more likely to have a positive attitude towards the long term than their male peers. However, this is not true in Albania and Poland where men are more likely, or in Armenia and South Africa, where there is little or no difference between the genders. In none of the countries studied do women score more than men on the combined measure. Indeed in Albania, Armenia, Germany, Norway, Poland, South Africa, the UK and BVI women score significantly less. There is a noticeable variation in financial literacy by age and income. In most...

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  • The findings also highlight a large proportion of individuals who could benefit from initiatives designed to change their behaviour. In almost every country surveyed, at least 3 in 10 respondents exhibited fewer that 6 of the 9 positive behaviours discussed. The analysis also shows how knowledge and behaviour are associated in every country – more knowledgeable individuals are more likely to exhibit positive financial behaviour. The data holds a great deal of potential.

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  • National financial literacy surveys are clearly important tools, but the potential gain from a survey undertaken across a number of countries is much greater. Such an international study provides the opportunity to compare levels of financial literacy and progress across populations and financial markets, and is of huge interest to policy makers and other stakeholders seeking to understand why one country appears to be achieving more than another and which interventions are most effective.

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  • Controversy remains about the precise connection between global imbalances and the global financial meltdown. Some commentators argue that external imbalances had little or nothing to do with the crisis, which instead was the result of financial regulatory failures and policy errors, mainly on the part of the U.S. Others put forward various mechanisms through which global imbalances are claimed to have played a prime role in causing the financial collapse. Former U.S.

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  • The net cost is a measure of cash flow requirements, not the bottom-line cost of college. The net cost will correspond to the expected family contribution (EFC) and will be similar at most colleges. If there are significant differences in net cost, it may be a sign of unusual circumstances that were taken into account at one college but not the others. Thus, families should compare college financial aid award letters based on the out-of-pocket cost and not the net cost.

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  • I knew I had to look for new ways to guide my children's education. As a mother as well as an accountant, I have been concerned by the lack of financial education our children receive in school. Many of today's youth have credit cards before they leave high school, yet they have never had a course in money or how to invest it, let alone understand how compound interest works on credit cards. Simply put, without financial literacy and the knowledge of how money works, they are not prepared to face the world that awaits them, a world in which spending is emphasized over savings....

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  • The SEC established these requirements to protect the average investor from some of the worst and most risky investments in the world. The problem is, these investor requirements also shield the average investor from some of the best investments in the world, which is one reason why rich dad’s advice to the average investor was, “Don’t be average.”

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