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How Much Can Financial Literacy Help?

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  • Guiso, Luigi
  • Viviano, Eliana

Abstract

We merge survey data on a sample of individual investors containing test-based measures of financial literacy with administrative records on their assets holding and trades before, during and after the financial crisis of September 2008. This dataset allows us to design three tests of the benefits of financial literacy by comparing the decisions actually taken by individuals with a dominated alternative. We find that high-literacy investors are better at timing the market, since conditional on exiting the stock market they are more likely to exit before rather than after the crash following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. High-literacy investors are also more likely to trade according to the prescriptions of normative models and to detect intermediaries’ potential conflicts of interest. However, though statistically significant these effects are economically small. In fact, far too many investors, even among those with high literacy, tend to choose the dominated alternative along all dimensions of choice examined. This suggests that literacy may be a poor edge against financial mistakes.

Suggested Citation

  • Guiso, Luigi & Viviano, Eliana, 2013. "How Much Can Financial Literacy Help?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9693, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9693
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    2. Grohmann, Antonia & Klühs, Theres & Menkhoff, Lukas, 2018. "Does financial literacy improve financial inclusion? Cross country evidence," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 84-96.
    3. Amariei, Cosmina, 2020. "Asset Allocation in Europe: Reality vs. Expectations," ECMI Papers 27304, Centre for European Policy Studies.
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    7. Alderighi, Stefano, 2018. "The determinants of retail trading activity in emerging markets: A cross-market analysis," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 152-167.
    8. Oscar A. Stolper & Andreas Walter, 2017. "Financial literacy, financial advice, and financial behavior," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 87(5), pages 581-643, July.
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    11. Balasubramnian, Bhanu & Sargent, Carol Springer, 2020. "Impact of inflated perceptions of financial literacy on financial decision making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
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    13. Love, David & Phelan, Gregory, 2015. "Hyperbolic discounting and life-cycle portfolio choice," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(4), pages 492-524, October.
    14. Giuseppe Marotta, 2018. "Why choosing dominated personal pension plans: sales force and financial literacy effects," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 0072, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
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    16. Eloisa Campioni & Vittorio Larocca & Loredana Mirra & Luca Panaccione, 2017. "Financial literacy and bank runs: an experimental analysis," CEIS Research Paper 402, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 07 Jul 2017.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial literacy; household finance; individual investors;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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