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Financial Literacy Around the World: An Overview

  • Annamaria Lusardi

    ()

    (Dartmouth College)

  • Olivia S. Mitchell

    ()

    (University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School)

In an increasingly risky and globalized marketplace, people must be able to make well-informed financial decisions. Yet new international research demonstrates that financial illiteracy is widespread when financial markets are well developed as in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States, or when they are changing rapidly as in Russia. Further, across these countries, we show that the older population believes itself well informed, even though it is actually less well informed than average. Other common patterns are also evident: women are less financially literate than men and are aware of this shortfall. More educated people are more informed, yet education is far from a perfect proxy for literacy. There are also ethnic/racial and regional differences: city-dwellers in Russia are better informed than their rural counterparts, while in the U.S., African Americans and Hispanics are relatively less literate than others. Moreover, the more financially literate are also those most likely to plan for retirement. In fact, answering one additional financial question correctly is associated with a 3-4 percentage point higher chance of planning for retirement in countries as diverse as Germany, the U.S., Japan, and Sweden; in the Netherlands, it boosts planning by 10 percentage points. Finally, using instrumental variables, we show that these estimates probably underestimate the effects of financial literacy on retirement planning. In sum, around the world, financial literacy is critical to retirement security.

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Paper provided by Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy) in its series CeRP Working Papers with number 106.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crp:wpaper:106
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  1. Maarten van Rooij & Annamaria Lusardi & Rob Alessi, 2007. "Financial literacy and stock market participation," DNB Working Papers 146, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  2. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2008. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," CFS Working Paper Series 2008/35, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  3. James Banks & Zoe Oldfield, 2007. "Understanding Pensions: Cognitive Function, Numerical Ability and Retirement Saving," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 28(2), pages 143-170, 06.
  4. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2009. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," NBER Working Papers 15350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Vilsa Curto, 2009. "Financial Literacy and Financial Sophistication Among Older Americans," NBER Working Papers 15469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Justine S. Hastings & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "How Financial Literacy and Impatience Shape Retirement Wealth and Investment Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 16740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jere R. Behrman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Cindy Soo & David Bravo, 2010. "Financial Literacy, Schooling, and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 16452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Justine S. Hastings & Lydia Tejeda-Ashton, 2008. "Financial Literacy, Information, and Demand Elasticity: Survey and Experimental Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 14538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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