A review of financial-literacy education programs for children and adolescents


Authors: Aisa Amagir, Wim Groot, Henriëtte Maassen van den Brink, Arie Wilschut

Date: July 13, 2017 

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2047173417719555

Source: Amagir, A., Groot, W., Maassen van den Brink, H., & Wilschut, A. (2018). A review of financial-literacy education programs for children and adolescents. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 17(1), 56–80. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047173417719555

“Economic Citizenship” refers to the independence, freedom, and responsibility we hold as consumers and spenders. Even with each citizen holding such responsibility, financial literacy is, nevertheless, being overseen by many educational programs. Prodigal spending habits stemming from low financial literacy could lead individuals into “debt accumulation, high-cost borrowing, poor mortgage choice, mortgage delinquency, and home foreclosure” (57).

In the Netherlands:

  • The proportion of adolescents under 26 who are in debt and requesting
    debt counseling has been growing from 9 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2013 (Madern, 2014)
  • 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds have at least one form of debt, loan or payment arrears.
  • Only 28% of 18- to 24-year-olds with payment arrears are aware of the fact that they have a financial problem (Van der Schors and Van der Werf, 2014).

To attain financial literacy the user needs to attain sufficient knowledge and understanding, practice the relevant skills and behavior that come with budgeting and tracking, and have the appropriate attitude and confidence to apply this knowledge into practice.

With the participation of primary, secondary, and college school students, the study was able to assess their financial knowledge, behavior, and attitude/confidence. Although most experiments had difficulties narrowing down to a structured conclusion due to the diverse set of results, the article was able to find out the effectiveness of school-based financial-literacy education programs for each group.

For primary school programs, there were no visible differences in their gained financial knowledge and attitude from programs already integrated into the curricula and individual courses dedicated to the topic. Additionally, they also noticed positive results when assessing them in a self-reported fashion to evaluate their potential next steps in completing requested tasks.

For secondary school students, the study noticed outcomes being influenced by the duration of the program and the gender of the participants. In terms of duration, although they saw no direct correlation between the length of studies (especially those that were short) and the effect it had on the students if given an extended time to intervene, there could be a more substantial improvement. With regards to the gender of participants, generally speaking, the male students outperformed female students in financial literacy (from beginning to end of the study); however, female teens reported having a more drastic boost in confidence through the study and attaining three types of financial behavior post program: “protecting personal information from being stolen, making savings goals, and tracking spending” (70).

Lastly, for college students, the study encouraged participants to have overall better spending habits to actively practice budgeting, and avoid compulsive spending behaviors. Similarly to secondary school students, male college students also showed positive financial attitudes and behaviors than female students did. Additionally, during the pre-test, female students were found to have more compulsive spending habits than the male group.


Seeing the general skill, behavior, and understanding of the three aged groups helps greatly to see the change in those pillars throughout a span of over ten years. It appears that from primary school participants being seen as more of a big group of fast-developing kids that can learn how to apply new knowledge, it quickly transforms into more individualized results between genders and how each participant’s confidence level and spending habits affect their results. With my study focusing more on the secondary school demographic, I will need to understand that I will be needing to deal with not just grabbing my demographic’s attention for a short and condensed amount of time for a minimal change but rather something that could encourage users to repeatedly engage with for them to potentially continue access with it over several years.