A Mapping Tool for Financial Education

An interactive visualization tool shows historical financial education investments and outcomes by state.

by Joseph de la Torre DwyerBennett AttawayShaun FieldKate Flinner
Mar 18, 2021

To better understand the impact of spending on financial education, Knology assembled a robust database that captures state-level investments in financial education, as well as indicators of financial wellbeing for individuals. But this database may be unwieldy for people without statistical analysis programs. To help more people use the data, we have built an open access data visualization tool, called the Financial Education Mapping Tool.

This tool presents maps of the United States, overlaid with a variety of annual measures relating to financial education and wellbeing. One subset of maps illustrates spending on financial education in public schools and spending by non-profit organizations that provide a range of programs, such as teacher training and out of school programs. The estimates for spending on financial education in public schools were based on teacher salaries and how much time a student graduating in a given year would likely have attended classes on financial education topics. The amount of time we estimated a typical student spent on financial education was determined by whether the classes containing that content were required or optional, and what percentage of those topics aligned with the financial education standards determined by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. For spending on non-profit financial education interventions, we based estimates on these non-profits’ IRS 990 forms.

Another subset of maps represents four measures of financial wellbeing. These measures are derived from responses to the Survey of Household Economics and Decision-Making, conducted by the Federal Reserve every year since 2013. In these maps, the tool displays the average score for respondents (to any year’s SHED survey) who graduated in a given year, by state. The Subjective Wellbeing map shows how individuals feel they are doing financially. The Healthcare Un-Affordability map indicates whether individuals went without healthcare (such as doctor and dentist visits, or medication) because they could not afford it in the last 12 months. Retirement Savings included the types of retirement savings individuals have, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. Financial Fragility captures if and how individuals would be able to cover a $400 emergency expense, and if they would be able to cover expenses for 3 months in the event of job loss or emergency.

Let’s Put It to Work

With the Financial Education Mapping Tool, users can compare how different states have changed their financial education spending over time, and what that has meant for the financial health of individuals living in those states. To access the tool, click on the Open the Tool button at the beginning of this article. This will open a new webpage that offers an overview of the tool and how to use it.

This tool can be useful for several professional groups. Policymakers and state board of education members can track investments and outcomes in their state over time. Journalists can document these topics in states or regions. Researchers can use the tool to complement their own studies.

The full data set will be made available soon. If you’d like to receive updates on that resource and other Knology topics, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

About the Project

From 2019 to 2020, Knology led A New History of Investment in Financial Education across the United States, a research initiative funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE) and supported by a range of experts. Knology built a robust database of historical spending on financial education across all 50 states, as well as outcomes of that spending. The team then used the database to study how investments in financial education through public schools and non-profits contributed to indicators of financial health for U.S. residents, such as retirement savings and financial fragility. Learn more about the project here. If you have questions about this project, contact us at info@knology.org.

The National Endowment for Financial Education is the independent, centralizing voice providing leadership, research, and collaboration to advance financial well-being. Find out more about NEFE at NEFE.org.

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