Using a Life Cycle Model to Evaluate Financial Literacy Program Effectiveness

43 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2015

See all articles by Annamaria Lusardi

Annamaria Lusardi

George Washington University - Department of Accountancy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Pierre-Carl Michaud

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics; Centre Interuniversitaire sur le Risque, les Politiques Economiques et l'Emploi (CIRPÉE); RAND Corporation, Labor and Population; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Netspar

Olivia S. Mitchell

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2015

Abstract

Prior studies disagree regarding the effectiveness of financial literacy programs, especially those offered in the workplace. To explain such measurement differences in evaluation and outcomes, we employ a stochastic life cycle model with endogenous financial knowledge accumulation to investigate how financial education programs optimally shape key economic outcomes. This approach permits us to measure how such programs shape wealth accumulation, financial knowledge, and participation in sophisticated assets (e.g. stocks) across heterogeneous consumers.

We then apply conventional program evaluation econometric techniques to simulated data, distinguishing selection and treatment effects. We show that the more effective programs provide follow-up in order to sustain the knowledge acquired by employees via the program; in such an instance, financial education delivered to employees around the age of 40 can raise savings at retirement by close to 10%. By contrast, one-time education programs do produce short-term but few long-term effects. We also measure how accounting for selection affects estimates of program effectiveness on those who participate. Comparisons of participants and non-participants can be misleading, even using a difference-in-difference strategy. Random program assignment is needed to evaluate program effects on those who participate.

Keywords: Life cycle model, financial literacy, financial decision-making, financial education, program evaluation, difference-in-difference

JEL Classification: D91

Suggested Citation

Lusardi, Annamaria and Michaud, Pierre-Carl and Mitchell, Olivia S., Using a Life Cycle Model to Evaluate Financial Literacy Program Effectiveness (February 2015). Netspar Discussion Paper No. 02/2015-043. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2707618 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2707618

Annamaria Lusardi

George Washington University - Department of Accountancy ( email )

George Washington University School of Business
Washington, DC 20052
United States

HOME PAGE: http://business.gwu.edu/profiles/annamaria-lusardi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Pierre-Carl Michaud

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 8888, Downtown Station
Montreal, Quebec H3C 3P8
Canada

Centre Interuniversitaire sur le Risque, les Politiques Economiques et l'Emploi (CIRPÉE) ( email )

Pavillon De Sève
Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4
Canada

RAND Corporation, Labor and Population ( email )

Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Olivia S. Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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