Determining socioeconomic factors of financial education


This CAF – Development Bank of Latin America – document focuses on financial education as a determining factor for generating financial inclusion. A survey was conducted in 2013 to identify the financial know-how, skills, attitudes and behaviours of people from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Three indicators were established based on the results:  (i) household economy, (ii) attitudes and behaviours and (iii) concepts and know-how:

  1. Household Economy: measures the participation that the respondent has in the financial decisions of his/her household. The indicator is low in all four countries (on a scale from 0 to 10). Peru offers the worst results with an average of 4.27 points. Bolivia gets a higher score, albeit low as well, with an average of 4.98.
  2. Attitudes and behaviours: measures a person’s inclination towards favourable attitudes for his or her financial welfare, for example, a preference for spending or saving, “living from hand to mouth”, etc.  Bolivia gets the best results with an average of 7.13 points, while Ecuador comes in last with 6.77 points.
  3. Basic financial concepts and know-how: measures the general financial know-how of a person. All four countries get a medium-high score for this indicator.  Colombia and Ecuador get higher average scores than Peru and Bolivia (6.37 and 6.35 against 5.94 and 6.12 points respectively).

Major socio-demographic divides were detected on analysing the determining factors for each of the indicators, such as gender, age, geographic area, level of education, income and saving capacity, all of which are covered in detail in the document.

Moreover, the following determining factors of financial education were identified:

  1. Family income level. There is a positive correlation between financial education indicators and income. People with greater financial know-how are more resilient to economic crisis.
  2. Years of schooling, closely correlated with financial education indicators. People with university qualifications get the best results in the different financial education indicators.
  3. Age. The youngest and oldest groups get worse results in the different financial education indicators. The best results are seen in the 36 – 50 age group, reflecting a non-linear relation to people’s age.
  4. Gender. There are major differences. Women with some kind of financial literacy have a better chance of successfully planning their pension.
  5. Employment regime.  People in paid work have better financial attitudes and know-how than those who are not.

Finally, the document presents the following conclusions:

  1. Different strategies are needed for different segments of the population and different financial products in line with their characteristics and needs.
  2. Formal savings mechanisms, like savings accounts, have a major impact on people’s financial capability.
  3. Gender differences do not affect all women in the same way. Women that are the head of the household show better financial attitudes and behaviours.
  4. Beneficiaries of government transfers or subsidies show poorer results in the concept and know-how indicator and they exhibit anti-savings attitudes. That is why social programmes of this kind should not only be accompanied by skill building around basic financial concepts, but also innovative strategies to promote saving.