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The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence

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  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

In this paper, we undertake an assessment of the rapidly growing body of research on financial literacy. We start with an overview of theoretical research which casts financial knowledge as a form of investment in human capital. Endogenizing financial knowledge has important implications for welfare as well as policies intended to enhance levels of financial knowledge in the larger population. Next, we draw on recent surveys to establish how much (or how little) people know and identify the least financially savvy population subgroups. This is followed by an examination of the impact of financial literacy on economic decision-making in the United States and elsewhere. While the literature is still growing, conclusions may be drawn about the effects and consequences of financial illiteracy and what works to remedy these gaps. A final section offers thoughts on what remains to be learned if researchers are to better inform theoretical and empirical models as well as public policy.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18952.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Publication status: published as Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 5-44, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18952

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Cited by:
  1. Wei-Yin Hu & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cynthia Pagliaro & Stephen P. Utkus, 2013. "Evaluating Web-based Savings Interventions: A Preliminary Assessment," Working Papers wp299, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  2. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property taxation, bounded rationality and housing prices," Working Paper Series 2014:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Society," NBER Working Papers 19930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Randle, Tony & Rudolph, Heinz P., 2014. "Pension risk and risk-based supervision in defined contribution pension funds," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6813, The World Bank.
  5. Aileen Heinberg & Angela A. Hung & Arie Kapteyn & Annamaria Lusardi & Anya Savikhin Samek & Joanne Yoong, 2014. "Five Steps to Planning Success. Experimental Evidence from U.S. Households," NBER Working Papers 20203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Annamaria Lusardi & Anya Savikhin Samek & Arie Kapteyn & Lewis Glinert & Angela Hung & Aileen Heinberg, 2014. "Visual Tools and Narratives: New Ways to Improve Financial Literacy," NBER Working Papers 20229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Population," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 1-30, May.
  8. Klapper, Leora & Lusardi, Annamaria & Panos, Georgios A., 2013. "Financial literacy and its consequences: Evidence from Russia during the financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 3904-3923.
  9. Miller, Margaret & Reichelstein, Julia & Salas, Christian & Zia, Bilal, 2014. "Can you help someone become financially capable ? a meta-analysis of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6745, The World Bank.
  10. Gine, Xavier & Martinez Cuellar, Cristina & Mazer, Rafael Keenan, 2014. "Financial (dis-)information : evidence from an audit study in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6902, The World Bank.
  11. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property taxation, bounded rationality and housing prices," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  12. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property Taxation, Bounded Rationality and House Prices," Working Paper Series 1029, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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