Financial Literacy among the Young



We examined financial literacy among the young using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We showed that financial literacy is low among the young; fewer than one-third of young adults possess basic knowledge of interest rates, inflation, and risk diversification. Financial literacy is strongly related to sociodemographic characteristics and family financial sophistication. Specifically, a college-educated male whose parents had stocks and retirement savings is about 50 percentage points more likely to know about risk diversification than a female with less than a high school education whose parents were not wealthy. These findings have implications for consumer policy.

Key Findings

  • Almost three-quarters of adults in their twenties lack basic financial literacy about calculating interest, inflation, and diversifying stocks.
  • Financial literacy varies by demographic group and family background.
  • Financial literacy programs should be targeted to those groups most lacking in financial knowledge.

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Paper ID

WP 2008-191

Publication Type

Working Paper

Publication Year