Culture and Financial Literacy

56 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2017 Last revised: 30 Mar 2018

See all articles by Martin Brown

Martin Brown

Swiss National Bank - Study Center Gerzensee; University of St. Gallen

Caroline Henchoz

University of Fribourg

Thomas Spycher

University of St. Gallen - School of Finance

Date Written: July 1, 2017


We study the effect of culture on financial literacy by comparing secondary-school students along the German-French language border within Switzerland. We find that students in the French-speaking area have a lower level of financial literacy than students in the German-speaking area. The difference in financial literacy across the language groups is stronger among native students than among Immigrant students. A mediation analysis suggests that the cultural divide in financial literacy is mainly related to systematic differences in financial socialisation across the language groups. Students in the German speaking region are more likely to receive pocket money at an early age and are more likely to have independent access to a bank account.

Keywords: Culture, Financial Literacy, Financial Socialisation

JEL Classification: D03, D14, Z10

Suggested Citation

Brown, Martin and Henchoz, Caroline and Spycher, Thomas, Culture and Financial Literacy (July 1, 2017). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Forthcoming, University of St.Gallen, School of Finance Research Paper No. 2017/03, Available at SSRN: or

Martin Brown (Contact Author)

Swiss National Bank - Study Center Gerzensee ( email )

Zuerich, 8022

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Unterer Graben 21
St. Gallen, CH-9000

Caroline Henchoz

University of Fribourg ( email )

Avenue de l'Europe 20
CH-1700 Fribourg

Thomas Spycher

University of St. Gallen - School of Finance ( email )

Unterer Graben 21
St.Gallen, CH-9000

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