Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Financial education may have a positive impact on savings behaviours and record keeping

Miller M, Reichelstein J, Salas C, et al.  Can you help someone become financially capable? A meta-analysis of the literature  Washington: World Bank Group; 2014.

Review question

      Are financial-education interventions effective in improving financial knowledge and behaviours of consumers?


      Financial literacy refers to the ability of individuals to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.

      Improving financial literacy among the general public, including older adults, is a priority issue for governments. An important reason for the increased attention to financial literacy is the global financial crisis, which highlighted the importance of financial knowledge and skills for consumers.

      This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of financial-education interventions (for example, educational programs, training or other activities) in improving financial knowledge and behaviours.

How the review was done

      A search of peer-reviewed papers was performed using the following search terms: financial awareness, financial capability, financial competence, financial education, financial knowledge and financial literacy. The search covered the period from January 2000 to September 2013.

      Eligible studies examined programs, educational outreach activities, media interventions, as well as other types of communication or training for consumers. These interventions aimed to strengthen knowledge (financial literacy), or modify attitudes and behaviours (financial capability).

      A total of 188 studies were included for the final analysis.

      This systematic review is part of a larger initiative led by the World Bank.

What the researchers found

      The systematic review highlighted the diversity of financial-education interventions examined in the literature, including courses taught in a classroom or workplace, individual counseling, and education interventions through mass media.

      Several topics were covered during these interventions, including: savings, retirement, credit counseling, business management, and mortgages.

      Findings revealed that financial-education interventions may have a positive impact on savings behaviours, and may have a positive impact on record keeping.

      However, there is no evidence that financial-education interventions have a positive impact on retirement savings or loan default rates (which means the rates of people who fail to meet the legal obligations or conditions of a loan).


      Financial-education interventions aiming to improve both financial literacy and capability can have a positive impact in some areas (for example, increasing savings and promoting financial skills such as record keeping), but not in others (for example, loan default rates). 

      The authors called for future research to assess the use of outreach activities to support increased savings. In addition, future research should assess the costs and benefits of financial-education interventions.


Advanced statistical methods contrasting and combining results from different studies.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

  • Promoting the labour force participation of older Canadians

    Health Canada
    This resource describes Canadian plans to help older adults to work for longer such as by increasing education, helping find jobs and handle health issues.
  • Reading Friends

    The Reading Agency
    Reading as a group can be beneficial for adults of all ages. This resource describes a program called Reading Friends that helps to connect older people and helps encourage reading as a group to maintain social connections and literacy skills.
  • The Caregiver’s Handbook: Help for Unpaid Caregivers in Nova Scotia

    Caregivers Nova Scotia
    Caregivers have many responsibilities when taking care of seniors with long term disabilities. This resource serves as a complete guide to caregiving in Nova Scotia or anywhere in Canada by offering tips and additional governmental and community resources for your convenience. Some topics covered include planning financial matters, understanding legal implications, being prepared for emergencies and available community supports.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (info@mcmasteroptimalaging.org).

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.
© 2012 - 2019 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use