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

Publisert: 2. des. 2017

This paper employs a large-scale field experiment in India to study the attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive constraints that may stymie the link between financial education and financial outcomes. Our research design combines financial education with (1) monetary incentives for correct answers to a financial knowledge test; (2) financial goal setting; and (3) personalized financial counseling. We find no effects of cash incentives on participants’ financial knowledge, but significant effects of both goal setting and counseling on real financial outcomes. In particular, combining goal setting with financial education encouraged relatively simple follow-up actions such as writing a budget or starting informal savings. Counseling, in turn, enabled the poor to undertake costlier or more difficult financial activities, including opening a formal bank savings account. Together, these findings identify important complements to financial education that may successfully bridge the gap between financial knowledge and behavior change.