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Economic Literacy: An International Comparison

Many studies show that most people are not financially literate and are unfamiliar with even the most basic economic concepts. However, the evidence on the determinants of economic literacy is scant. This paper uses international panel data on 55 countries, merging indicators of economic literacy with a large set of macroeconomic and institutional variables. Results show that there is substantial heterogeneity of financial and economic competence across countries, and that human capital indicators (PISA test scores and college attendance) are positively correlated with economic literacy. Furthermore, inhabitants of countries with more generous social security systems are generally less literate, lending support to the hypothesis that the incentives to acquire economic literacy are related to the amount of resources available for private accumulation.

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Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 238.

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Date of creation: 06 Oct 2009
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Publication status: Published in The Economic Journal, 2010, 120(548), F429–F451
Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:238
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  1. M.C.J. van Rooij & Annamaria Lusardi & R. Alessie, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation," Working Papers 07-23, Utrecht School of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. McArdle, John J. & Smith, James P. & Willis, Robert, 2009. "Cognition and Economic Outcomes in the Health and Retirement Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 4269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2006. "Baby boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and Housing wealth," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/20, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  5. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2008. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," CFS Working Paper Series 2008/35, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  6. 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.
  7. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2002. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Charlotte Christiansen & Juanna Schröter Joensen & Jesper Rangvid, 2008. "Are Economists More Likely to Hold Stocks?," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 12(3), pages 465-496.
  9. Annamaria Lusardi & Peter Tufano, 2009. "Debt Literacy, Financial Experiences, and Overindebtedness," CeRP Working Papers 83, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  10. 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.
  11. M.C.J. van Rooij & A. Lusardi & R. Alessie, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation," Working Papers 23-23, Utrecht School of Economics.
  12. James Banks & Cormac O'Dea & Zoë Oldfield, 2010. "Cognitive Function, Numeracy and Retirement Saving Trajectories," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(548), pages F381-F410, November.
  13. Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo, 2003. "The role of information and social interactions in retirement plan decisions: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00141, The Field Experiments Website.
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