07/05/2020 - Around one in four students in the 20 countries and economies* that took part in the latest OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test of financial literacy, and one in seven in the 13 OECD countries and economies, are unable to make even simple decisions on everyday spending.
Only one in ten students performs at the highest level of financial literacy, on average across OECD countries and economies; these students are able to make financial decisions in contexts that will only become relevant to them later in life.
Some 117,000 15‑year-olds took part in the test, which evaluated the knowledge and skills of teenagers as regards money matters and personal finance. Items in the assessment addressed topics such as dealing with bank accounts and debit cards, understanding interest rates on a loan, or choosing between a variety of mobile phone plans. This is the third time that PISA has assessed students’ ability to face real-life situations involving financial issues and decisions.
Estonia had the highest average score, followed by Finland, the participating Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island), Poland and Australia.
Findings from earlier PISA assessments are also confirmed in PISA 2018: there is only a small gender gap in performance but gender differences in terms of attitude and behaviors; and the more socio-economically advantaged a student is, the higher he or she is likely to perform in financial literacy.
Moreover, on average across OECD countries/economies, roughly one in two students hold an account at a financial institution and/or hold a payment or debit card; however, only roughly one in three students have the skills to interpret and evaluate a bank statement.
The PISA 2018 exercise went further than previous exercises in examining various money-related aspects of students’ lives, especially in describing their money-related atittudes and behaviours and in examining digital financial activities. Many students Almost three in four students, on average across OECD countries and economies, had purchased something on line (either alone or with a family member) over the twelve months prior to the assessment; doing so was associated with stronger performance on the assessment. Likewise, almost two in three students reported being confident in paying with a debit card instead of using cash, or in keeping track of their balance electronically; these were also associated with stronger performance on the assessment.
Almost nine in ten students reported that they check that they received the right change when they bought something, and three in four students reported that they compare prices between shops when they think about making a purchase; these behaviours were also associated with stronger performance on the assessment.
* Participating countries and economies: Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island), Chile, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United States.
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PISA 2018 Results (Volume IV): Are Students Smart about Money?, together with country analysis, summaries and data, is available at www.oecd.org/pisa
Find sample questions at www.oecd.org/pisa/test/financialliteracytest/ and www.oecd.org/pisa/test/PISA2018-financial-literacy-items.pdf.