Weighing the Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace

The case is often made that financial education leads to improved financial decisions. In this paper, we begin by assessing the need for financial education by reviewing national trends in savings, debt, and retirement funding as well as by reviewing the literature linking personal financial behavior and participation in financial education programs. We then describe the conceptual underpinnings of a link between improved personal financial behavior and work outcomes. Finally, we evaluate the efficacy of a specific workplace financial education program utilizing surveys and interviews with employees and employers. Our findings suggest that for the participants in this specific program, financial education did improve personal financial outcomes, and we found some evidence of improvements in work outcomes. Examples of improved work outcomes include decreased requests for 401k loans and pay advances; increased use of flexible spending accounts; increased 401k participation and contributions; and increased satisfaction with employee financial situations, and subsequently, decreased level of financial stress. Finally, in an appendix, we utilize the results of the survey data to study the relationship between financial knowledge and financial behavior.
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