The Impact of Financial Education for Youth

Date
Feb 2019
Based on rigorous empirical evidence, this paper evaluates if the excitement about school-based financial education programs is warranted. First, relying on recent experimental evidence, the paper takes stock of the impact of financial education programs aimed at reaching children and youth. Second, it takes a look at the spillover effects of these programs in terms of their impact on both child labor and grade progression. Finally, the paper goes beyond average treatment effects and studies the distribution of gains across different population groups. The evidence uncovers large and robust impacts on financial skills under delivery models that incorporate a mandatory course requirement. In turn, voluntary after-school programs yield meager or null effects. These gains in financial literacy among youth do not come at the cost of pervasive effects on academic outcomes. Moreover, the impact of school-based financial education for the most part seems to be very inclusive, as treatment effects tend to be uniform across different sub-samples.