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High School Curriculum and Financial Outcomes: The Impact of Mandated Personal Finance and Mathematics Courses

Listed author(s):
  • Shawn Cole
  • Anna Paulson
  • Gauri Kartini Shastry

Financial literacy and cognitive capabilities are convincingly linked to the quality of financial decision-making. Yet, there is little evidence that education intended to improve financial decision-making is successful. Using plausibly exogenous variation in exposure to state-mandated personal finance and mathematics high school courses, affecting millions of students, this paper answers the question “Can high school graduation requirements impact financial outcomes?” The answer is yes, although not via traditional personal finance courses, which we find have no effect on financial outcomes. Instead, we find additional mathematics training leads to greater financial market participation, investment income, and better credit management, including fewer foreclosures.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/51/3/656
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 51 (2016)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 656-698

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:51:y:2016:i:3:p:656-698
Note: DOI: doi:10.3368/jhr.51.3.0514-6390R1
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
  2. Bruhn, Miriam & Lara Ibarra, Gabriel & McKenzie, David, 2013. "Why is voluntary financial education so unpopular ? Experimental evidence from Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6439, The World Bank.
  3. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  4. 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, May.
  5. William Skimmyhorn, 2016. "Assessing Financial Education: Evidence from Boot Camp," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 322-343, May.
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