Guide to Financial Health
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development's (UNSGSA) working group on financial health, convened by H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands as the UNSGSA, has adopted the following definition of financial health:
Financial health or wellbeing is the extent to which a person or family can smoothly manage their current financial obligations and have confidence in their financial future.
The definition further notes that four elements comprise financial health: smooth day-to-day finances, resilience, ability to pursue long term goals and confidence in one’s financial situation.
While financial health has been well-researched in a few high-income countries, application in low- and middle-income countries is in very early stages and only now gaining momentum. New investigations of financial health are appearing, including three products from UNSGSA and another from UNCDF. More are underway, as national-level surveys of financial health will be conducted in a large number of countries in the coming months.
For people who want to quickly get up to speed on the current state of the financial health movement, this post provides a guide to some of the most relevant recent work. The guide summarizes recent work on financial health that is relevant for policy and practice across the world, grouped into three sets.
- General discussions of financial health, with an emphasis on the need for policy and private sector responses.
- Measurement of financial health. This includes seminal survey research from high-income countries (like Norway, Australia, and the U.S.), that have become building blocks for financial health indicators. It also includes discussions of the challenges involved in measuring financial health.
- Results from examining financial health in middle and lower-income environments, including both cross-country surveys and examples from specific investigations.