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A Method for Evaluating the Quality of Financial Decision Making, with an Application to Financial Education

Author

Listed:
  • Sandro Ambuehl
  • B. Douglas Bernheim
  • Annamaria Lusardi

Abstract

We introduce a method for measuring the quality of financial decisions built around a notion of financial competence, which gauges the alignment between consumers choices and those they would make if they properly understood their opportunities. We prove our measure admits a formal welfare interpretation even when consumers suffer from additional decision-making flaws, known and unknown, outside the scope of analysis. An application illuminates the pitfalls of the types of brief rhetoric-laden interventions commonly used for adult financial education: they affect behavior through unintended mechanisms, and hence may not improve decisions even when they perform well according to conventional metrics.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandro Ambuehl & B. Douglas Bernheim & Annamaria Lusardi, 2014. "A Method for Evaluating the Quality of Financial Decision Making, with an Application to Financial Education," NBER Working Papers 20618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20618
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    3. Andrew Caplin & Daniel J. Martin, 2020. "Framing, Information, and Welfare," NBER Working Papers 27265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jonathan D. Ketcham & Nicolai V. Kuminoff & Christopher A. Powers, 2016. "Estimating the Heterogeneous Welfare Effects of Choice Architecture: An Application to the Medicare Prescription Drug Insurance Market," NBER Working Papers 22732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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