Responsible Finance Forum

The ABCs of Financial Education: Experimental Evidence on Attitudes, Behavior, and Cognitive Biases

Fenella Carpena, Shawn Cole, Jeremy Shapiro and Bilal Zia
17 September 2015
Source:  The World Bank Group

Lessons on financial education from a field experiment in India

This paper uses a large scale field experiment in India to study attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive constraints that stymie the link between financial education and financial outcomes. The study complements financial education with (i) participant classroom motivation with pay for performance on a knowledge test, (ii) intensity of treatment with personalized financial counseling, and (iii) behavioral nudges with financial goal setting. The analysis finds no impact of pay for performance but significant effects of both counseling and goal setting on real financial outcomes. These results identify important complements to financial education that can bridge the gap between financial knowledge and financial behavior change.

This paper is a product of the Finance and Private Sector Development Team, Development Research Group. It is part of a larger effort by the World Bank to provide open access to its research and make a contribution to development policy discussions around the world. Policy Research Working Papers are also posted on the Web at http://econ.worldbank.org. The corresponding author may be contacted at bzia@worldbank.org.