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Financial Capability in the United States: Consumer Decision-Making and the Role of Social Security

Listed author(s):
  • Annamaria Lusardi

    (Dartmouth College and Financial Literacy Center)

This paper analyzes new data from the 2009 National Financial Capability Study. This survey provides information to assess how American households make financial decisions, how they are faring under current economic conditions, and in what ways financial knowledge contributes to financial capability. In addition, it includes data about the information that the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides to consumers. The paper finds that the majority of individuals do not plan for retirement or make provisions against shocks. Debt management often results in sizable interest payments and fees and it is notable how many individuals have used high-cost methods of borrowing in the past five years. Levels of financial knowledge are strikingly low and many respondents do not possess knowledge of basic concepts. Social Security has taken steps to provide information about what individuals will expect to receive when they retire. The self-reported evidence provided in the survey shows that the information has been used by about a quarter of the population who acknowledge receiving the statement. Moreover, there are large differences among use in demographic groups and some of the more vulnerable populations, such as African-Americans, those hit by shocks, and single and separated individuals are more likely to use the statement.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp226.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp226.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp226
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Web page: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/
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  1. Erik Hurst & Annamaria Lusardi & Arthur Kennickell & Francisco Torralba, 2010. "The Importance of Business Owners in Assessing the Size of Precautionary Savings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 61-69, February.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Jason Beeler, 2006. "Savings Between Cohorts: The Role of Planning," Working Papers wp122, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  3. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2008. "Planning and Financial Literacy: How Do Women Fare?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 413-417, May.
  4. Lusardi, Annamaria & Tufano, Peter, 2015. "Debt literacy, financial experiences, and overindebtedness," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(04), pages 332-368, October.
  5. Annamarie Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," Working Papers wp108, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  6. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell & Vilsa Curto, 2009. "Financial Literacy among the Young," Working Papers wp191, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  7. van Rooij, Maarten & Lusardi, Annamaria & Alessie, Rob, 2011. "Financial literacy and stock market participation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 449-472, August.
  8. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
  9. 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.
  10. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2017. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," Quarterly Journal of Finance (QJF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 7(03), pages 1-31, September.
  11. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S Mitchelli, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Preparedness: Evidence and Implications for Financial Education," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 42(1), pages 35-44, January.
  12. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice?," NFI Working Papers 2008-WP-13, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.
  13. Adele Atkinson & Stephen McKay & Sharon Collard & Elaine Kempson, 2007. "Levels of Financial Capability in the UK," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 29-36, February.
  14. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
  15. Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2007. "Do better–informed workers make better retirement choices? A test based on the Social Security Statement," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 51, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  16. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Household Saving Behavior: The Role of Financial Literacy, Information, and Financial Education Programs," NBER Working Papers 13824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Annamaria Lusardi, 2011. "Americans' Financial Capability," NBER Working Papers 17103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. John Ameriks & Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2002. "Wealth Accumulation and the Propensity to Plan," NBER Working Papers 8920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
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