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Financial education affects financial knowledge and downstream behaviors

APA Citation:

Kaiser, T., Lusardi, A., Menkhoff, L., & Urban, C. (2022). Financial education affects financial knowledge and downstream behaviors. Journal of Financial Economics, 145(2a), 255-272. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfineco.2021.09.022

Abstract Created by REACH:

Evaluations of financial education programs have shown positive benefits for participants, such as developing the knowledge and skills to make wise financial decisions. However, programs can vary extensively in terms of specific aims (e.g., improve knowledge, change financial behaviors) and type (e.g., classroom, online program). This meta-analysis of 76 randomized controlled trials of financial education programs examined the aggregate effects of financial education programs on participants’ financial knowledge and financial behaviors. In general, participation in these programs increased individuals’ financial knowledge and improved their financial behaviors (e.g., saving).



Subject Affiliation:



Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Meta Analysis


Kaiser, Tim, Lusardi, Annamaria, Menkhoff, Lukas, Urban, Carly


We study the rapidly growing literature on the causal effects of financial education programs in a meta-analysis of 76 randomized experiments with a total sample size of over 160,000 individuals. Many of these experiments are published in top economics and finance journals. The evidence shows that financial education programs have, on average, positive causal treatment effects on financial knowledge and downstream financial behaviors. Treatment effects are economically meaningful in size, similar to those realized by educational interventions in other domains, and robust to accounting for publication bias in the literature. We also discuss the cost-effectiveness of financial education interventions.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University of Koblenz-Landau, TK
The George Washington University School of Business and NBER, AL
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), and Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), LM
Montana State University and Institute for Labor Studies (IZA), CU


financial education, financial literacy

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This work was supported by DFG through CRC TRR 190.

REACH Newsletter:

  September 2023

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