The ABCs of Financial Education: Experimental Evidence on Attitudes, Behavior, and Cognitive Biases

How supplementary interventions can make financial education work more effectively

Financial literacy - the ability to make informed decisions regarding money - plays a critical role in ensuring both the well-being of households and the stability of the financial system. Consequently, numerous private institutions, non-profit organizations, and governments have responded by implementing financial education programs. However, empirical evidence on the efficacy of such programs provides only mixed results, and little is known about which aspects of financial education initiatives successfully enhance financial behavior and financial outcomes.

The authors of this impact note combined financial education with cash incentives for learning, non-compulsory goal-setting, and personalized financial counseling services to study the attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive constraints that can stymie the link between financial education and outcomes.

The research aims to understand the following two related questions:

  1. What barriers prevent individuals participating in financial education programs from translating financial knowledge into action?
  2. What mechanisms are most effective in delivering financial education interventions that meaningfully improve financial behavior?

About this Publication

By Carpena, F., Cole, S. A., Shapiro, J. , Zia, B. H.