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Financial Decision Making and Cognition in a Family Context


  • James P. Smith
  • John J. McArdle
  • Robert Willis


In this article, we study the association of cognitive traits and, in particular, numeracy of both spouses on financial outcomes of the family. We find significant effects, particularly for numeracy for financial and non-financial respondents alike, but much larger effects for the financial decision maker in the family. We also examine who makes these financial decisions in the family and why. Once again, cognitive traits such as numeracy are an important component of that decision with larger effects of numeracy for husbands compared to wives. Copyright © 2010 TheAuthor(s). The Economic Journal © 2010 Royal Economic Society.

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  • James P. Smith & John J. McArdle & Robert Willis, 2010. "Financial Decision Making and Cognition in a Family Context," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(548), pages 363-380, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:120:y:2010:i:548:p:f363-f380

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sérgio Almeida De Sousa & Marcos De Almeida Rangel, 2014. "Do As I Do, Not As I Say: Incentivization And The Relationship Between Cognitive Ability And Riskaversion," Anais do XL Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 40th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 126, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. Deuflhard, Florian & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Inderst, Roman, 2014. "Financial Literacy and Savings Account Returns," MPRA Paper 53857, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Doblhammer, Gabriele & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Fritze, Thomas, 2011. "Economic Conditions at the Time of Birth and Cognitive Abilities Late in Life: Evidence from Eleven European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5940, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:zbw:rwirep:0455 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ji Yong Lee & Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr & Cary Deck & Andreas Drichoutis, 2017. "Cognitive Ability and Bidding Behavior in Second Price Auctions: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2017-3, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
    6. Huang, Wei & Zhou, Yi, 2013. "Effects of education on cognition at older ages: Evidence from China's Great Famine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 54-62.
    7. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Mathias G. Sinning, 2013. "Locus of Control and Savings," Ruhr Economic Papers 0455, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    8. Lei, Xiaoyan & Giles, John & Hu, Yuqing & Park, Albert & Strauss, John & Zhao, Yaohui, 2012. "Patterns and correlates of intergenerational non-time transfers : evidence from CHARLS," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6076, The World Bank.
    9. Meta Brown & John Grigsby & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Jaya Wen & Basit Zafar, 2016. "Financial Education and the Debt Behavior of the Young," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(9), pages 2490-2522.
    10. Joanne W. Hsu & Robert Willis, 2013. "Dementia Risk and Financial Decision Making by Older Households: The Impact of Information," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 340-377.
    11. Syngjoo Choi & Shachar Kariv & Wieland M?ller & Dan Silverman, 2014. "Who Is (More) Rational?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1518-1550, June.
    12. Luc Arrondel & Nicolas Frémeaux, 2013. ""For richer, for poorer": savings preferences and choice of spouse," PSE Working Papers halshs-00786245, HAL.
    13. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Sinning, Mathias G., 2016. "Locus of control and savings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 113-130.
    14. Blázquez, Maite & Budría, Santiago, 2015. "The effects of over-indebtedness on individual health," Working Papers in Economic Theory 2015/03, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    15. Sloan, Frank A. & Eldred, Lindsey M. & Xu, Yanzhi, 2014. "The behavioral economics of drunk driving," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 64-81.
    16. Mosca, Irene & McCrory, Cathal, 2016. "Personality and wealth accumulation among older couples: Do dispositional characteristics pay dividends?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-19.
    17. Teresa Bago d'Uva & Esen Erdogan Ciftci & Owen O'Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2015. "Who can predict their Own Demise? Accuracy of Longevity Expectations by Education and Cognition," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-052/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    18. Estrada-Mejia, Catalina & de Vries, Marieke & Zeelenberg, Marcel, 2016. "Numeracy and wealth," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 53-63.
    19. Luik, Marc-André & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich, 2016. "Immigrant-native differences in stockholding – The role of cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 103-119.
    20. Terri Friedline, 2015. "A Developmental Perspective on Children's Economic Agency," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 39-68, March.
    21. Angela Hung & Joanne Yoong & Elizabeth Brown, 2012. "Empowering Women Through Financial Awareness and Education," OECD Working Papers on Finance, Insurance and Private Pensions 14, OECD Publishing.
    22. Katherine Grace Carman & Angela Hung, 2017. "Household Retirement Saving The Location of Savings Between Spouses," Working Papers WR-1166, RAND Corporation.
    23. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:73-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Johnston, David W. & Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Shields, Michael A., 2016. "Financial decision-making in the household: Exploring the importance of survey respondent, health, cognitive ability and personality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 42-61.

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