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Unpacking the causal chain of financial literacy

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Author Info

  • Carpena, Fenella
  • Cole, Shawn
  • Shapiro, Jeremy
  • Zia, Bilal

Abstract

A growing body of literature examines the causal impact of financial literacy on individual, household, and firm level outcomes. This paper unpacks the mechanism of impact by focusing on the first link in the causal chain. Specifically, it studies the experimental impact of financial literacy on three distinct dimensions of financial knowledge. The analysis finds that financial literacy does not immediately enable individuals to discern costs and rewards that require high numeracy skills, but it does significantly improve basic awareness of financial choices and attitudes toward financial decisions. Monetary incentives do not induce better performance, suggesting cognitive constraints rather than lack of attention are a key barrier to improving financial knowledge. These results illuminate the strengths and limitations of financial literacy training, which can inform the design and anticipated effects of such programs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5798.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5798

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Related research

Keywords: Financial Literacy; Education For All; Access&Equity in Basic Education; Access to Finance; Primary Education;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2006. "Cognitive Abilities and Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 5735, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M. & Maki, Dean M., 2001. "Education and saving:: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-465, June.
  3. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2009. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," CeRP Working Papers 90, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  4. Nava Ashraf & Dean S. Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 917, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S Mitchelli, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 35-44, January.
  6. Martin Valdivia & Dean Karlan, 2006. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," Working Papers 941, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  7. Shawn Cole & Thomas Sampson & Bilal Zia, 2011. "Prices or Knowledge? What Drives Demand for Financial Services in Emerging Markets?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 1933-1967, December.
  8. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
  9. Sumit Agarwal & Gene Amromin & Itzhak Ben-David & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Douglas D. Evanoff, 2009. "Do financial counseling mandates improve mortgage choice and performance? Evidence from a legislative experiment," Working Paper Series WP-09-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Working Papers 1027, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Bilal Zia, 2012. "The Impact of Financial Literacy Training for Migrants," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1216, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  4. Dercon, Stefan & Hill, Ruth Vargas & Clarke, Daniel & Outes-Leon, Ingo & Seyoum Taffesse, Alemayehu, 2014. "Offering rainfall insurance to informal insurance groups: Evidence from a field experiment in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 132-143.
  5. Wasana Karunarathne & John Gibson, 2013. "Financial Literacy and Remittance Behavior of Skilled and Unskilled Immigrant Groups in Australia," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1170, The University of Melbourne.
  6. Justine S. Hastings & Brigitte C. Madrian & William L. Skimmyhorn, 2013. "Financial Literacy, Financial Education, and Economic Outcomes," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 347-373, 05.
  7. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.

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