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FINANCIAL LITERACY OF THE YOUTH - EXPERIENCES, PRECONCEPTIONS, ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOUR

B. Greimel-Fuhrmann

Vienna University of Economics and Business (AUSTRIA)
Research on financial literacy has shown that in most countries, the levels of financial literacy are particularly low among young people. However, there is little research on young people’s preconditions for enhancing their financial skills such as their everyday experiences with money within their families, peer groups and at school. Furthermore, their preconceived ideas of financial issues are unknown. It is plausible to assume that financial experiences and preconceptions have an impact on sparking the interest for and enhancing the understanding of financial issues as well as on making sensible financial decisions. This paper presents and discusses the results of two qualitative interview studies and one quantitative study with young Austrians: 32 students aged 13 or 14 who attended the last year of their lower secondary schools as well as 33 students of commercial schools aged between 16 and 20 who are taught various business subjects in school were interviewed. It was the objective of both qualitative studies to identify critical incidents in the respondents’ lives that they think have helped them gain experience with money matters and influenced their money management. The studies also focused on the students’ preconceived ideas of financial issues like debt, inflation and time value of money. The quantitative study is based on the analysis of the data of 1,343 students that reveal the relationships between learning experience, money attitudes and money management. The results of all studies show impressively that students are highly interested in money issues but have erroneous beliefs about money that might hinder effective financial education. Their financial attitudes and their money management is mainly shaped by learning experiences within their families. Learning about money issues at school plays a minor role in the lives of most students but would be of utmost importance to those students who cannot rely on their parents to learn how to deal competently with money.