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What Explains the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy? The Role of Household Decision-Making

Author

Listed:
  • Raquel Fonseca Benito
  • Kathleen J. Mullen
  • Gema Zamarro
  • Julie Zissimopoulos

Abstract

Research has shown that financial illiteracy is widespread among women, and that many women are unfamiliar with even the most basic economic concepts needed to make saving and investment decisions. This gender gap in financial literacy may contribute to the differential levels of retirement preparedness between women and men. However, little is known about the determinants of the gender gap in financial literacy. Using data from the RAND American Life Panel, the authors examined potential explanations for the gender gap including the role of marriage and division of financial decision-making among couples. They found that differences in the demographic characteristics of women and men did not explain much of the financial literacy gap, whereas education, income and current and past marital status reduced the observed gap by around 25%. Oaxaca decomposition revealed the great majority of the gender gap in financial literacy is not explained by differences in covariates - characteristics of men and women - but due to coefficients, or how literacy is produced. They did not find strong support for specialization in financial decision-making within couples by gender. Instead, they found that decision-making within couples was sensitive to the relative education level of spouses for both women and men.

Suggested Citation

  • Raquel Fonseca Benito & Kathleen J. Mullen & Gema Zamarro & Julie Zissimopoulos, 2010. "What Explains the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy? The Role of Household Decision-Making," Working Papers WR-762, RAND Corporation.
  • Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:wr-762
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M. & Maki, Dean M., 2001. "Education and saving:: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-465, June.
    3. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M., 2003. "The effects of financial education in the workplace: evidence from a survey of households," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1487-1519, August.
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ning Tang & Andrew Baker & Paula C. Peter, 2015. "Investigating the Disconnect between Financial Knowledge and Behavior: The Role of Parental Influence and Psychological Characteristics in Responsible Financial Behaviors among Young Adults," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 376-406, July.
    2. Neubert, Milena & Bannier, Christina E., 2016. "Actual and perceived financial sophistication and wealth accumulation: The role of education and gender," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145593, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Antonia Grohmann & Annekathrin Schoofs, 2018. "Financial Literacy and Intra-Household Decision Making: Evidence from Rwanda," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1720, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Kiliyanni, Abdul Latheef & Sivaraman, Sunitha, 2016. "The perception-reality gap in financial literacy: Evidence from the most literate state in India," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 47-64.
    5. Bannier, Christina E. & Schwarz, Milena, 2017. "Skilled but unaware of it: Occurrence and potential long-term effects of females' financial underconfidence," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168188, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Mahnaz Mahdavi & Nicholas J. Horton, 2014. "Financial Knowledge among Educated Women: Room for Improvement," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 403-417, June.
    7. Tabea Bucher-Koenen & Annamaria Lusardi & Rob Alessie & Maarten van Rooij, 2017. "How Financially Literate Are Women? An Overview and New Insights," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 255-283, July.
    8. Ashok Thomas & Luca Spataro, 2015. "Financial Literacy, Human Capital and Stock Market Participation in Europe: An Empirical Exercise under Endogenous Framework," Discussion Papers 2015/194, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    9. repec:onb:oenbmp:y:2018:i:q1/18:b:2 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Alfonso Arellano & Noelia Camara & David Tuesta, 2014. "El efecto de la autoconfianza en el conocimiento financiero," Working Papers 1427, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    11. Alfonso Arellano & Noelia Camara & David Tuesta, 2014. "The effect of self-confidence on financial literacy," Working Papers 1428, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    12. Arie Kapteyn & Jinkook Lee & Caroline Tassot & Hana Vonkova & Gema Zamarro, 2015. "Dimensions of Subjective Well-Being," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 625-660, September.
    13. Ute Filipiak & Yabibal M. Walle, 2015. "The Financial Literacy Gender Gap: A Question of Nature or Nurture?," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 176, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    14. Liana Holanda N. Nobre & John E. Grable & Wesley Vieira da Silva & Claudimar Pereira da Veiga, 2016. "A Cross Cultural Test of Financial Risk Tolerance Attitudes: Brazilian and American Similarities and Differences," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 6(1), pages 314-322.
    15. Bianchi, Milo, 2017. "Financial Literacy and Portfolio Dynamics," TSE Working Papers 17-808, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    16. repec:eee:joreco:v:25:y:2015:i:c:p:122-129 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:eee:ecolet:v:168:y:2018:i:c:p:102-106 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Andrej Cupak & Pirmin Fessler & Maria Silgoner & Elisabeth Ulbrich, 2018. "Financial literacy gaps across countries: the role of individual characteristics and institutions," Working and Discussion Papers WP 2/2018, Research Department, National Bank of Slovakia.
    19. Judy L. Postmus & Andrea Hetling & Gretchen L. Hoge, 2015. "Evaluating a Financial Education Curriculum as an Intervention to Improve Financial Behaviors and Financial Well-Being of Survivors of Domestic Violence: Results from a Longitudinal Randomized Control," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 250-266, March.
    20. repec:spr:jbecon:v:87:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11573-017-0853-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Alfonso Arellano & Noelia Camara & David Tuesta, 2015. "Explaining the Gender Gap in Financial Literacy: the Role of Non-Cognitive Skills," Working Papers 15/32, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    22. Marie-Eve Lachance, 2014. "Financial Literacy and Neighborhood Effects," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 251-273, June.
    23. Carman, Katherine Grace & Zamarro, Gema, 2016. "Does Financial Literacy Contribute To Food Security?," International Journal of Food and Agricultural Economics (IJFAEC), Alanya Alaaddin Keykubat University, Department of Economics and Finance, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-19, January.
    24. repec:kap:decono:v:165:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10645-017-9300-0 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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