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The Long Shadow of Socialism: On East-West German Differences in Financial Literacy

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  • Bucher-Koenen, Tabea
  • Lamla, Bettina

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Abstract

We use the German reunification as a natural experiment to understand drivers of financial literacy accumulation. With the transformation from a planned to a market-based economy in 1990, the incentives to invest in financial literacy were changed exogenously for East Germans and remained the same for West Germans. Our results show that even 20 years after reunification there is evidence for a significant financial literacy gap between East and West. While some groups, for instance women and those who have migrated from the East to the West, show similar levels of financial literacy compared with their West German peers, others do not. Differences in financial literacy are present across all educational groups and at the top and the bottom of the income distribution. We decompose the financial literacy gap taking account of factors commonly integrated in theoretical models of financial literacy. Most of the gap remains unexplained. Extending empirical and theoretical models by including differences in attitudes and values might improve our understanding of financial literacy acquisition.

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  • Bucher-Koenen, Tabea & Lamla, Bettina, 2014. "The Long Shadow of Socialism: On East-West German Differences in Financial Literacy," MEA discussion paper series 201405, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:201405
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    2. Axel Börsch-Supan & Tabea Bucher-Koenen & Michela Coppola & Bettina Lamla, 2015. "Savings In Times Of Demographic Change: Lessons From The German Experience," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 807-829, September.
    3. Goldfayn-Frank, Olga & Wohlfart, Johannes, 2019. "How Do Consumers Adapt to a New Environment in their economic forecasting? Evidence from the German Reunification," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203668, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145727, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Luc Arrondel, 2018. "Financial Literacy and Asset Behaviour: Poor Education and Zero for Conduct?," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 60(1), pages 144-160, March.
    6. Luc Arrondel, 2020. "Financial literacy and French behaviour on the stock market," Working Papers halshs-02505320, HAL.
    7. Neubert, Milena & Bannier, Christina E., 2016. "Actual and perceived financial sophistication and wealth accumulation: The role of education and gender," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145593, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Herber, Stefanie P. & Kalinowski, Michael, 2016. "Non-take-up of student financial aid: A microsimulation for Germany," BERG Working Paper Series 109, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    9. Antonia Grohmann & Olaf Hübler & Roy Kouwenberg & Lukas Menkhoff, 2016. "Financial Literacy: Thai Middle Class Women Do Not Lag behind," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1615, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Andrej Cupak & Pirmin Fessler & Maria Antoinette Silgoner & Elisabeth Ulbrich, 2018. "Financial literacy in Austria: a survey of recent research results," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q1/18, pages 14-26.
    11. Davoli, Maddalena & Hou, Jia, 2018. "Financial literacy and socialist education: Lessons from the German reunification," SAFE Working Paper Series 217, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE.
    12. Grohmann, Antonia & Kouwenberg, Roy & Menkhoff, Lukas, 2015. "Childhood roots of financial literacy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 114-133.
    13. Stefanie P. Herber & Michael Kalinowski, 2016. "Non-Take-Up of Student Financial Aid: A Microsimulation for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 844, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    14. Fang Zhao & Jie Sun & Raj Devasagayam & Gary Clendenen, 2018. "Effects of culture and financial literacy among Chinese-Americans on participating in financial services," Journal of Financial Services Marketing, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 23(1), pages 62-75, March.

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    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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