Financial Anxiety and Stress among U.S. Households: New Evidence from the National Financial Capability Study and Focus Groups

The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the deeply rooted financial struggles that many Americans face. This paper shows that even before the pandemic, a
substantial share of households was already anxious and stressed about their personal finances. The greatest levels of anxiety and stress were expressed by women, young adults,
those with lower income, those with more financially dependent children, those who are not married, and those who are unemployed. In this paper, factors likely contributing
to high levels of financial anxiety and stress are analyzed.



The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the deeply rooted financial struggles that many Americans face. This paper shows that even before the pandemic, a
substantial share of households was already anxious and stressed about their personal finances. The greatest levels of anxiety and stress were expressed by women, young adults,
those with lower income, those with more financially dependent children, those who are not married, and those who are unemployed. In this paper, factors likely contributing
to high levels of financial anxiety and stress are analyzed.

Financial Education Affects Financial Knowledge and Downstream Behaviors

This study covers 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. 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 are at least three times as large as the average effect documented in earlier work. These results are robust to the method used, restricting the sample to papers published in top economics journals, including only studies with adequate power, and accounting for publication selection bias in the literature. The study concludes with a discussion of the cost-effectiveness of financial education interventions.



GFLEC – Finlit Talks

This video series offers concise summaries of in-depth academic and practitioner presentations, in plain English, for dissemination to a worldwide audience. For convenient viewing, most videos are between three and six minutes long.



The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index)

The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) measures knowledge and understanding that enable sound financial decision making and effective management of personal finances among U.S. adults. The P-Fin Index is an annual survey developed by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, in consultation with Greenwald & Associates. It is unique in its breadth of questions and its coverage of the topics that measure financial literacy. The index is based on responses to 28 questions across eight functional areas: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing/managing debt, insuring, comprehending risk, and go-to information sources.



Financial Well-being among Black and Hispanic Women

This paper provides an in-depth examination of the financial well-being of Black and Hispanic women and the factors contributing to it, using the 2018 wave of the National Financial Capability Study. Differences between Black and Hispanic women versus White women are documented, in that the former are more likely to face economic challenges that depress financial well-being. Controlling for differences in socio-demographic characteristics, there are important differences in the factors that contribute to financial well-being for Black and Hispanic women compared to White women. This includes distinct impacts of education, family structure, employment, and financial literacy. Results imply that extant financial education programs inadequately address the needs of Black and Hispanic women.



Fearless Woman: Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation

Women are less financially literate than men. It is unclear whether this gap reflects a lack of knowledge or, rather, a lack of confidence. This survey experiment shows that women tend to
disproportionately respond “do not know” to questions measuring financial knowledge, but when this response option is unavailable, they often choose the correct answer. The authors find that about one-third of the financial literacy gender gap can be explained by women’s lower confidence levels. Both financial knowledge and confidence explain stock market participation.



Testing the use of the Mint app in an interactive personal finance module

To advance understanding of effective financial education methods, the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) conducted an experiment using Mint, a financial improvement tool offered by Intuit, whose financial products include TurboTax and QuickBooks. This study measures Mint’s effectiveness at improving students’ financial knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Students at the George Washington University participated in a half-day budgeting workshop and were exposed to either Mint, which is a real-time, automated platform, or Excel, which is an offline, static tool. 

The authors found that participation in both workshops was associated with improved preparedness to have conversations about money matters with parents, a greater sense of financial autonomy, and an increased awareness of the importance of budgeting, but that participants in the Mint workshop were more likely to have a positive experience using the budgeting tool, to feel confident that they could achieve a financial goal, and to be engaged in budgeting one month after the workshop. Results show that even short financial education interventions can meaningfully influence students’ financial attitudes and behavior and that an interactive tool like Mint may have advantages over a more static tool like Excel. 



Attitudes Toward Debt and Debt Behavior

This paper introduces a novel survey measure of attitude toward debt. Survey results with panel data on Swedish household balance sheets from registry data are matched, showing that debt attitude measure helps explain individual variation in indebtedness as well as debt build-up and spending behavior in the period 2004–2007. As an explanatory variable, debt attitude compares well to a number of other determinants of debt, including education, risk-taking, and financial literacy. Evidence that suggests that debt attitude is passed down along family lines and has a cultural element is also presented.



Connecting to Reimagine: Money & COVID-19 webinar series

This webinar series released by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) features speakers from the public, private, and academic sectors.

Past and upcoming webinar topics include:



Financial Literacy and Wellness Among U.S. Women: Insights on Underrepresented Minority Women

The 2020 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) survey was fielded in January 2020 and included an oversample of women. This enables examining the state of financial literacy and financial wellness among U.S. women immediately before the onset of COVID-19. A more refined understanding of financial literacy among women, including areas of strength and weakness and variations among subgroups, can inform initiatives to improve financial wellness, particularly as the United States moves forward from the pandemic and its economic consequences.



COVID-19 Financial Resilience Hub

The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) focuses on financial literacy research, policy, and solutions.

This toolkit contains suggestions and resources for managing personal finances and protection against the financial emergencies caused by COVID-19.