Jan 142016

Financial Literacy Around the World

Only 1/3rd of the world’s adult population is financially literate according to a report by S&P and the World Bank. The research looked at the response from 150,000 people from 140 different countries in 2014. Subjects were asked to answer a series of questions that measure fundamental personal finance concepts. There were 4 questions in total. The last question was split into two parts. Only one part needed to be answered correctly in order to get a passing mark for that question.

A person is considered financially literate when he or she correctly answered at least 3 out of the 4 financial questions. Based on this definition, the study determined that 33% of adults worldwide are financially literate.

68% of Canadians are Financially Literate

The Scandivania countries topped the rankings in a three-way tie. Canada and Israel tied for 4th place. The United States may be the world’s richest country, but it came in at 14th place, which is still in the top 10% of all the countries that participated. 🙂


The report notes that most people in major advanced economies are financially literate. But in contrast, the major emerging economies such as Brazil, India, and South Africa have a financial literacy rate of only 28% on average.

It’s sad how developing economies tend to have a lower rate of financial literacy because those are often the countries that face the worst financial problems. The financial literacy rate in Puerto Rico is only 32%. It defaulted on its $174 Million debt payment earlier this month because it literally ran out of money. It still owes over $70 Billion and more defaults are expected to come. One of its options is to file for Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy so it can ask the U.S. Congress for debt relief. If nothing is done then the worsening financial problems could turn into a humanitarian crisis. Puerto Rico’s economy is slowly becoming a basket case. The small island territory appears to have more issues than MoneySense magazine.

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Feb 152015

A new study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found that adults in many countries make money decisions with surprisingly little financial knowledge. Researchers asked people in 18 countries THREE simple financial literacy questions about interest rates, inflation and investing.

When Americans over 50 years old were asked these 3 questions, only 50% could answer the first two questions correctly. Furthermore, just 33% knew the correct answer to all three questions. “Even well-educated people are not necessarily savvy about money,” according to the report. Among people with post-graduate degrees, 64% were able to ace the quiz. That’s better than the average, 🙂 but still less than my expectations.

Do you think you are smarter than most Americans? According to the report, answering each additional question correctly is associated with a 3% to 4% greater probability of planning for retirement.


The Wharton study found that men (38%) were more likely than women (23%) to know the answer to all three questions. The guys also claimed to feel more confident about their financial knowledge, even when they answered incorrectly. The ladies, on the other hand, were more likely to admit that they didn’t know the answer to a question. Women are so modest. 😳

So how many did you get right on your first try? Feel free to spoil the answers below in the comments section if you think you know the correct answers. 😉 I’ll verify by tomorrow. Financially literate individuals save more, earn more on their investments, and manage their money better. So if you got 3 out of 3 correct then congrats! Your financial future is looking bright. 😀 Otherwise, keep brushing up on your personal finance knowledge. 🙂

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