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Do Financial Education Programs Work?


In this paper we provide a comprehensive critical analysis of research that has investigated the impact of financial education programs on consumer financial behavior. In light of the evidence, we recommend that future programs be highly targeted toward a specific audience and area of financial activity (e.g. homeownership or credit card counseling, etc.), and that this training occurs just before the corresponding financial event (e.g. purchase of a home or use of a credit card, etc.). Similarly, in light of a lack of evidence, we also recommend that program evaluation be taken as an essential element of any program, and that it be included in the design of the programs before they are introduced.

Key words: financial education, financial literacy, consumer finance.

JEL codes: D12, D14


Suggested citation: Hathaway, Ian, and Sameer Khatiwada, 2008. "Do Financial Education Programs Work?" Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper no. 08-03.

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