Do Financial Education Programs Work?

29 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2008

See all articles by Ian Hathaway

Ian Hathaway

Frontier Economics; Brookings Institution; New York University

Sameer Khatiwada

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Date Written: April 1, 2008


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 towards 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.

Keywords: financial education, financial literacy, consumer finance

JEL Classification: D12, D14

Suggested Citation

Hathaway, Ian and Khatiwada, Sameer, Do Financial Education Programs Work? (April 1, 2008). FRB of Cleveland Working Paper No. 08-03, Available at SSRN: or

Ian Hathaway (Contact Author)

Frontier Economics ( email )

United Kingdom

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

Sameer Khatiwada

International Labour Organization (ILO) ( email )

4, route des Morillons
1211 Geneva 22, CH-1211

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