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Unpacking the causal chain of financial literacy

Author

Listed:
  • Carpena, Fenella
  • Cole, Shawn
  • Shapiro, Jeremy
  • Zia, Bilal

Abstract

A growing body of literature examines the causal impact of financial literacy on individual, household, and firm level outcomes. This paper unpacks the mechanism of impact by focusing on the first link in the causal chain. Specifically, it studies the experimental impact of financial literacy on three distinct dimensions of financial knowledge. The analysis finds that financial literacy does not immediately enable individuals to discern costs and rewards that require high numeracy skills, but it does significantly improve basic awareness of financial choices and attitudes toward financial decisions. Monetary incentives do not induce better performance, suggesting cognitive constraints rather than lack of attention are a key barrier to improving financial knowledge. These results illuminate the strengths and limitations of financial literacy training, which can inform the design and anticipated effects of such programs.

Suggested Citation

  • Carpena, Fenella & Cole, Shawn & Shapiro, Jeremy & Zia, Bilal, 2011. "Unpacking the causal chain of financial literacy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5798, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5798
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Shawn Cole & Thomas Sampson & Bilal Zia, 2011. "Prices or Knowledge? What Drives Demand for Financial Services in Emerging Markets?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 1933-1967, December.
    5. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
    6. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
    7. 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.
    8. Sumit Agarwal & Eugene Amromin & Itzhak Ben-David & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Douglas D. Evanoff, 2009. "Do financial counseling mandates improve mortgage choice and performance? Evidence from a legislative experiment," Working Paper Series WP-09-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    9. Victor Stango & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Exponential Growth Bias and Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(6), pages 2807-2849, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Renuka Sane & Susan Thomas, 2015. "In Search of Inclusion: Informal Sector Participation in a Voluntary, Defined Contribution Pension System," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(10), pages 1409-1424, October.
    2. Abel , Martin & Cole, Shawn & Zia, Bilal, 2015. "Debiasing on a roll: changing gambling behavior through experiential learning," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7195, The World Bank.
    3. Margaret Miller & Julia Reichelstein & Christian Salas & Bilal Zia, 2015. "Can You Help Someone Become Financially Capable? A Meta-Analysis of the Literature," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 30(2), pages 220-246.
    4. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2014. "The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 5-44, March.
    5. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    6. Grohmann, Antonia & Kouwenberg, Roy & Menkhoff, Lukas, 2014. "Roots of Financial Literacy," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100550, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    8. Doi, Yoko & McKenzie, David & Zia, Bilal, 2014. "Who you train matters: Identifying combined effects of financial education on migrant households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 39-55.
    9. Karunarathne, Wasana & Gibson, John, 2014. "Financial literacy and remittance behavior of skilled and unskilled immigrant groups in Australia," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, pages 54-62.
    10. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Bilal Zia, 2014. "The Impact of Financial Literacy Training for Migrants," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 130-161.
    11. Grohmann, Antonia & Kouwenberg, Roy & Menkhoff, Lukas, 2015. "Childhood roots of financial literacy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 114-133.
    12. Lührmann, Melanie & Serra-Garcia, Marta & Winter, Joachim, 2015. "Teaching teenagers in finance: Does it work?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 160-174.
    13. French, Declan & McKillop, Donal, 2016. "Financial literacy and over-indebtedness in low-income households," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 1-11.
    14. Dercon, Stefan & Hill, Ruth Vargas & Clarke, Daniel & Outes-Leon, Ingo & Seyoum Taffesse, Alemayehu, 2014. "Offering rainfall insurance to informal insurance groups: Evidence from a field experiment in Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 132-143.
    15. Jessica Goldberg, 2014. "Products and policies to promote saving in developing countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-74, October.
    16. Justine S. Hastings & Brigitte C. Madrian & William L. Skimmyhorn, 2013. "Financial Literacy, Financial Education, and Economic Outcomes," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 347-373, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial Literacy; Education For All; Access&Equity in Basic Education; Access to Finance; Primary Education;

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