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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. 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, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 3904-3923.
  2. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property taxation, bounded rationality and housing prices," Working Paper Series, Uppsala University, Department of Economics 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. Haizhen Lin & Jeffrey T. Prince, 2014. "Determinants of Policy Response: The Case of the Partnership Long-Term Care Insurance Program," Working Papers, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy 2014-03, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
  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. James M. Poterba, 2014. "Retirement Security in an Aging Population," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 1-30, May.
  7. Antonia Grohmann & Roy Kouwenberg & Lukas Menkhoff, 2014. "Financial Literacy and Its Consequences in the Emerging Middle Class," Kiel Working Papers 1943, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  8. Wei-Yin Hu & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cynthia Pagliaro & Stephen P. Utkus, 2013. "Evaluating Web-based Savings Interventions: A Preliminary Assessment," Working Papers, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center wp299, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  9. 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.
  10. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property Taxation, Bounded Rationality and House Prices," Working Paper Series, Research Institute of Industrial Economics 1029, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Melanie Lührmann & Marta Serra-Garcia & Joachim Winter, 2014. "The Impact of Financial Education on Adolescents' Intertemporal Choices," CESifo Working Paper Series 4925, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. 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.

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