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CU System
Global study finds 1 in 6 U.S. students financially illiterate
PARIS (7/11/14)--In a recent international study that looked at the financial capabilities of 15-year-olds, U.S. teenagers scored below average in financial literacy, and roughly 17.8% of American students were found to be financially illiterate, meaning they failed to complete even the most basic of tasks.

"This group of students can, at best, recognize the difference between needs and wants, make simple decisions about everyday spending, recognize the purpose of everyday financial documents, such as an invoice, and apply single and basic numerical operations," found the Organisation of Economic and Development, which administered the international assessment.

About 29,000 15-year-olds from 13 countries participated in the test, which gauged knowledge and financial skills such as reading and comprehending a bank statement, calculating the long-term cost of a loan or understanding how insurance works.

Americans scored just below the mean score of the 13 countries. The average score was 500, and U.S. teenagers averaged a 492.

Those from Shanghai-China posted the highest average score in financial literacy, above 600, with Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Poland behind them, though only 1 out of 10 students were able to handle complex financial situations across the board, including in the United States.

Students with bank accounts scored higher than those without them, the study found. In the United States, about 50% of 15-year-olds reported having bank accounts and in general performed better than those who didn't.

Other factors that influenced performance were:
  • Gender;
  • Wealth;
  • Cultural possessions and number of books at home;
  • Parents' highest occupational status and level of education;
  • Immigration status; and
  • School location.
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