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In an increasingly risky and globalized marketplace, people must be able to make well-informed financial decisions. New international research demonstrates that financial illiteracy is widespread in both well-developed and rapidly changing markets. Women are less financially literate than men, the young and the old are less financially literate than the middle-aged, and more educated people are more financially knowledgeable. Most importantly, the financially literate are more likely to plan for retirement. Instrumental variables estimates show that the effects of financial literacy on retirement planning tend to be underestimated. In sum, around the world, financial literacy is critical to retirement security.
We examine financial literacy in the US using the new National Financial Capability Study, wherein we demonstrate that financial literacy is particularly low among the young, women, and the less-educated. Moreover, Hispanics and African-Americans score the least well on financial literacy concepts. Interestingly, all groups rate themselves as rather well-informed about financial matters, notwithstanding their actual performance on the key literacy questions. Finally, we show that people who score higher on the financial literacy questions are much more likely to plan for retirement, which is likely to leave them better positioned for old age. Our results will inform those seeking to target financial literacy programmes to those in most need.
We present new evidence on financial literacy and retirement preparation in the Netherlands based on two surveys conducted before and after the onset of the financial crisis. We document that while financial knowledge did not increase from 2005 to 2010, in 2010 significantly more individuals report having thought about their retirement. Using information on financial conditions and financial knowledge of relatives, we find a positive causal effect of financial literacy on retirement preparation. Employing the panel feature of our dataset, we show that the effect of financial knowledge on retirement planning is bound to be positive.
Recent pension reforms in Italy require individuals to decide whether to participate in pension funds, how much to contribute, and how to invest their wealth, raising concerns about their ability to deal with financial matters. Using the Bank of Italy's Survey on Household Income and Wealth (SHIW), our empirical analysis shows that most individuals lack knowledge of basic concepts such as interest rates and inflation. Men, the more educated, and residents in the Centre–North possess higher financial literacy. We also find that financial literacy has a positive and significant impact on the probability of pension plan participation.
We examine financial literacy in Germany using data from the SAVE survey. We find that knowledge of basic financial concepts is lacking among women, the less educated, and those living in East Germany. In particular, those with low education and low income in East Germany have low financial literacy compared to their West German counterparts. Interestingly, there is no gender disparity in financial knowledge in the East. In order to investigate the nexus of causality between financial literacy and retirement planning, we develop an instrumental variables strategy by making use of regional variation in the financial knowledge of peers. We find a positive impact of financial knowledge on retirement planning.
We use data from the Swedish Financial Supervisory 2010 consumer survey to look at levels of financial literacy and retirement planning in the Swedish population. The results indicate that many adults have low financial literacy. In general, financial literacy levels are lower among the young, the old, women and those with low income or low educational attainment. People who report having tried to plan for retirement have higher levels of financial literacy. In particular, an understanding of risk diversification is strongly correlated with planning for retirement. We relate our findings to features of the Swedish pension system.
We examine the relationship between financial literacy and retirement planning in Russia, a country with a relatively old and rapidly ageing population, large regional disparities, and emerging financial markets. We find that only 36% of respondents in our sample understand interest compounding and only half can answer a simple question about inflation. In a country with widespread public pension provisions, we find that financial literacy is significantly and positively related to retirement planning involving private pension funds. Thus, along with encouraging the availability of private retirement plans, efforts to improve financial literacy can be pivotal to the expansion of the use of such funds.
We compare levels of financial literacy between the general adult population of New Zealand, people of Māori ethnicity, and people of Ngāi Tahu, a Māori tribe that is providing financial education to its members. While the level of financial knowledge of Māori people is generally lower than for non-Māori (controlling for demographic and economic factors), there is little difference between the financial knowledge of the people of Ngāi Tahu and other New Zealanders. Moreover, we find that financial literacy is not significantly associated with planning for retirement. This could reflect the dominant role of New Zealand's universal public pension system in providing retirement income security.
The level of financial literacy is not high in Japan. Although a majority of respondents were able to correctly answer a simple question about interest rates, more than half were not able to correctly answer a question about risk diversification. Many respondents stated they did not know the answer to the financial literacy questions, which might indicate that Japanese are very cautious and only answer when confident in their response. Women, the young, and those with lower incomes and lower educational attainment have the lowest levels of financial literacy, and financial literacy increases the probability of having a retirement savings plan.
The OECD International Network on Financial Education has addressed the demand for an internationally comparable measure of financial literacy by developing a financial literacy questionnaire that can be used across a diverse range of countries. This questionnaire takes into account knowledge, behaviours, and attitudes related to personal finance and is designed to identify similarities and differences in levels of financial literacy around the world. It is currently being piloted in 12 countries, with the expectation that the final survey instrument will become a useful tool for policy-makers, academics, and financial education programme designers seeking to identify robust questions to assess financial literacy.