Advancing Research on Financial Education Interventions

Researchers are using NEFE / Knology data tools to study how financial education investments may be paying off for the next generation.

by Knology
Nov 22, 2022

Personal finance courses are increasingly becoming a norm for US high school students. Teaching skills like how to open a bank account, how to make a budget, and how to save money, these courses are designed to help students gain familiarity with basic financial concepts, and to prepare them for the various financial difficulties they will face later in life. At present, 7 states require students to take these courses before graduating; in many others, financial education classes are available as electives.

Whether mandatory or not, these personal finance courses constitute a big investment from state governments. What impact is this spending having? And how can financial education mandates be crafted in ways that best serve the diverse needs of high school students?

To answer these questions, in 2018, Knology launched "A New History of Investment Across the United States." Supported by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), the project explored the impact of state-level investments in financial education on individual outcomes—especially those for low- and moderate-income US residents. The project yielded two key research products:

  • A Database and R Package, which contains historical records of state-by-state investments in financial education, along with data on financial health outcomes for US residents.
  • A Mapping Tool , whichvisually depicts changes in financial education investments and outcomes from 2001 through 2019, and which can be used to assess shifts over time and to compare states to each other.

Upon the completion of this project, in 2022, NEFE & Knology launched the Financial Education Database Training Fellowship. The Fellowship was designed to help a small group of emerging scholars use the database and mapping tool to contribute to a new wave of financial education research.

Six scholars were admitted into the program (click here for more information about them), and between April and September, 2022, they participated in a series of seminars in which NEFE and Knology staff offered advice on the use of the database and mapping tool, while also assisting with the design and implementation of Fellows' research agendas. For more on what the Fellowship entailed, please click the orange "Full Document" button above.

The Fellowship culminated in the development of either a peer-reviewed article or poster presentation. In addition to their chosen final output, Fellows will also discuss their research findings in a series of webinars facilitated by NEFE.

These webinars are open to the public, and will be recorded to allow for broader dissemination. For more information about each session (along with registration links or recordings!), see below:

Session 1: Database Presentation with Joseph De La Torre Dwyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Dwyer is a political scientist whose research focuses on equality of opportunity and understanding how to improve people's well-being through increasing control over economic outcomes and distribution of knowledge. In 2019, NEFE awarded a grant to support the database project through Knology, and Joseph served as the Principal Investigator for the project.

Date: Wednesday, November 9, 2022, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

For a recording of Dr. Dwyer's presentation, see below:

Session 2: Fellowship Presentations with Lena Gan & Jack Kroger

Lena is a current Ph.D. student with the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University, where she specializes in consumer and household financial analytics. Using nationally representative data from 2013-2021 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), her study examines the relationship between Investments in education, health status, having children, financial literacy, and financial well-being among 4,410 at-risk households.

Jack is a Ph.D. candidate in Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an Assistant Policy Researcher for the RAND Corporation, specializing in poverty alleviation, social insurance, and policies designed to improve economic security and well-being. Jack's study expands on existing research on state financial education mandates by assessing the longer-term effect that financial education in high school has on future difficulties repaying debts borrowed for education.

For a recording of the second webinar, see below:

Session 3: Fellowship Presentations with Jeffrey Anvari-Clark, Ph.D., & Lu Fan, Ph.D.

Dr. Anvari-Clark is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of North Dakota, with a focus on social work practice, financial social work, and behavioral and mental health. Jeffrey's study examines behaviors that impact money decisions and how they are imparted through family and cultural financial socialization. Specifically, his research evaluates the impact of financial assistance among families and friends on improving financial knowledge and lowering financial fragility.

Dr. Fan is an Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia, specializing in financial advice-seeking, consumer well-being, financial education and socialization, and behavioral finance. Lu's study explores the relationship between state-mandated financial education and financial outcomes of American young adults, including holding credit cards, having emergency savings, and saving for retirement.

For a recording of the third webinar, see below:

Session 4: Fellowship Presentations with Yingying Zeng & Thomas Koranyke, Ph.D.

Yingying is a Ph.D. candidate in Social Work at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis with interests in wealth disparity, financial capability, immigration, and social policy. Yingying's study examines the relationship between state-level financial education spending and young adults' use of alternative financial services, which include entities like payday lenders, rent-to-own shops, and check cashing services.

Dr. Korankye is an Assistant Professor in Personal and Family Financial Planning at the University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. His research focuses on families' and individuals' financial decisions and well-being. Thomas' study examines the impact of holding student loan debt on emergency saving decisions and the role financial knowledge plays in making these choices.

For a recording of the fourth webinar, see below:

Photo by Micheile dot com on Unsplash

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