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How Early One Should Start Financial Education? Evidence from a Large Scale Experiment (English)

Economists disagree on many things, but there is an universal consensus in the field that education is key for long-term growth and development. Evidence strongly suggests that what really matters for development is the quality of education (Hanushek and Woessmann 2010). Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to improve school quality. How can we ensure that students develop their reading, writing, and math skills from their very first days in school? This is a challenge that has led many countries to test interventions aimed at improving school quality. Hundreds of interventions have been tried and rigorously tested, but we are still far from having a good understanding of what policies are effective in enhancing school quality (Evans and Popova, 2015). While the development of reading, writing, and math skills are important, they also have implications on other fields such as financial literacy (Lusardi 2012). A recent meta-analysis compiled 71 experimental evaluations from developing countries. The evaluations tested the impact of programs aimed at improving the quality of elementary schools (proxied by standardized test scores). Overall, the programs included in the meta-analysis showed very limited effects on learning outcomes (McEwan 2015). The evidence suggests that improving school quality is difficult. The limited effects found by short-term interventions with completely new subjects—such as financial education— on learning outcomes should not be a surprise. To our knowledge, in addition to our study, there is only one experimental evaluation of a financial-education program that targeted elementary school students in a developing country. The pilot program was conducted in Ghana for a full school year but had no effects on learning and attitudinal and behavioral outcomes (Berry et al. 2015).


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    Latin America & Caribbean,

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    How Early One Should Start Financial Education? Evidence from a Large Scale Experiment

  • Keywords

    school year; theory of change; old student; elementary school student; principal component analysis; primary school student; increase in knowledge; proxy for poverty; school quality; young students; consumption index; empirical literature; test score; pilot program; poverty status; behavioral change; school census; social impact; demographic characteristic; educational survey; municipal school; emotional skill; disadvantaged household; primary data; large-scale assessment; budget constraint; administrative datum; Cash Transfer; middle school; standard deviation; school schedule; short-term intervention; behavioral outcome; changing attitude; knowledge distribution; long-term growth; alternative interpretation; school program; point estimate; math skill; financial planning; old children; liquidity constraint; demonstration effect; behavioral biases; individual decision; proxy for quality; spatial dimension; daily life; student progress; Teachers



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How Early One Should Start Financial Education? Evidence from a Large Scale Experiment (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.