Relationships between state mandates for financial education and young adults’ financial literacy and capability
Elise T. Carlson 1 * , Daniel W. Eadens 2
More Detail
1 Colorado Mesa University, United States
2 University of Central Florida, United States
* Corresponding Author


The purpose of this study was to describe the relationships between financial literacy and financial capability rates of 18-24-year-olds and formal financial education in public K-12 schools. Though much has been studied about financial education, financial literacy, and financial capability, there are few clear answers about the relationships among the three. This study unpacked associations and relationships between financial education in public K-12 schools and young adults’ financial literacy and financial capability. Using extant data from national surveys about financial literacy and financial capability in 2015 and 2018, this study determined there was rarely a significant difference in young adults’ financial literacy and financial capability as related to the level of financial education they received in high school. Such information is important because it can reveal the differences in outcomes of various levels of formal financial education; this information can be used to shape policies and implementation that will provide the greatest positive impact for individuals and, in turn, the nation.



  • Applied Research and Consulting. (2015). 2015 national financial capability study. Author.
  • Applied Research and Consulting. (2018). 2018 national financial capability study. Author.
  • Baron, L. M. (2015). Financial literacy with families: Opportunity and hope. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 8(1), 83-118.
  • Brown, J. (2017). Trends and issues in household economic security. U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Economic Policy.
  • Brown, M., Grigsby, J., van der Klaauw, W., Wen, J., & Zafar, B. (2016). Financial education and the debt behavior of the young. Review of Financial Studies, 29(9), 2490-2522.
  • Chambers, R.G., Asarta, C.J., & Farley-Ripple, E. (2019). Gender, parental characteristics, and financial knowledge of high school students: evidence from multicountry data. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 30(1), 97-109.
  • Chen, H., & Volpe, R.P. (2002). Gender differences in personal financial literacy among college students. Financial Services Review, 11(3), 289.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2015). Advancing K-12 financial education: A guide for policymakers. Author.
  • Council for Economic Education. (2018). Survey of the states: Economic and personal finance education in our nation’s schools. Author.
  • Deenanath, V., Danes, S.M., & Jang, J. (2019). Purposive and unintentional family financial socialization, subjective financial knowledge, and financial behavior of high school students. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 30(1), 83-96.
  • Fernandes, D., Lynch, J. G., Jr., & Netemeyer, R.G. (2014). Financial literacy, financial education, and downstream financial behaviors. Management Science, 60(8), 1861-1883.
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. (2015). 2105 national financial capability study. Author.
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. (2016). Financial capability in the United States 2016. Author.
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. (2019). About the national financial capability study.
  • Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N. E., & Hyun, H. H. (2015). How to design and evaluate research in education. McGraw Hill.
  • Gonzales, P., Sen, A. (2017). Financial literacy of 15-year-olds: Results from PISA 2015. National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Henning, M. B., & Lucey, T. A. (2017). Elementary preservice teachers' and teacher educators' perceptions of financial literacy education. Social Studies, 108(4), 163-173.
  • Hensley, B. J. (2015). Enhancing links between research and practice to improve consumer financial education and well-being. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 26(1), 94-101.
  • Hensley, B. J. (2019). Politics is hindering the effectiveness of financial education. NEFE.
  • Holden, L., & Biddle, J. (2017). The introduction of human capital theory into education policy in the United States. History of Political Economy, 49(4), 537–574.
  • Luksander, A., Beres, D., Huzdik, K., & Nemeth, E. (2014). Analysis of the factors that influence the financial literacy of young people studying in higher education. Public Finance Quarterly, 59(2), 220-241.
  • Lusardi, A., & Mitchell, O.S. (2014). The economic importance of financial literacy: Theory and evidence. Journal of Economic Literature, 52(1), 5-44.
  • Mandell, L., & Klein, L.S. (2009). The impact of financial literacy education on subsequent financial behavior. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 20(1), 15-24.
  • Mottola, G. R., & Kieffer, C. N. (2017). Understanding and using data from the National Financial Capability Study. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 46(1), 31-39.
  • National Financial Educators Council. (2018). Financial literacy definition. Retrieved from
  • Office of Financial Education (Dept. of Treasury). (2002). Integrating financial education into school curricula: Giving America's youth the educational foundation for making effective financial decisions throughout their lives by teaching financial concepts as part of math and reading curricula in elementary, middle, and high schools. Author.
  • Olaniyan, D.A., & Okemakinde, T. (2008). Human capital theory: Implications for educational development. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 5(5), 479-483.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2015). National strategies for financial education. Author.
  • President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans. (2015). Final report: June 2015. Author.
  • Robb, C.A. (2011). Financial knowledge and credit card behavior of college students. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32(4), 690-698.
  • Robb, C.A., & Sharpe, D.L. (2009). Effect of personal financial knowledge on college students’ credit card behavior. Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 20(1), 25–43.
  • Sinha, G., Tan, K., & Zhan, M. (2018). Patterns of financial attributes and behaviors of emerging adults in the United States. Children and Youth Services Review, 93, 178-185.
  • Urban, C., Schmeiser, M., Collins, J.M., Brown, A. (2018). The effects of high school personal financial education policies on financial behavior. Economics of Education Review, 78, 101786.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (2018). Financial literacy: K-12. Author.
  • Yoong, J. (2013). Improving financial education effectiveness through behavioral economics: OECD key findings and way forward. OECD.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.