Developing children and young people’s financial capability: Evidence review

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This review of evidence, which builds on an earlier 2018 review (1), improves MaPS’ understanding of recently published evidence in the area of financial capability in children and young people. It includes 51 new studies that were categorised and merged into an updated evidence map.

Why this research is so important

Understanding what works to build children and young people’s financial capabilities is key to informing the delivery of effective financial education for children and young people – whether at home, in educational settings, or in the wider community.

This review of evidence can also inform the sharing of ‘what works’ to those who fund and/or deliver financial education across the UK, so that interventions for children and young people can have the greatest impact, as well as better support progress towards the ‘Financial Foundations’ goal of the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing. It can additionally be used to identify gaps in the evidence base, which MaPS and others can work towards filling. 

Key findings

The review identifies 11 themes, drawn from the evidence base: 

  1. Train-the-trainer approaches are effective at improving the quality of financial education and building children and young people’s financial capability 
  2. Workshops and classroom formats enhance ability and mindset 
  3. Experiential or active learning enhances skill development and reaches further into behaviour change 
  4. Parental involvement influences children and young people’s mindset, connection and behaviour  
  5. Timing and context amplify the effectiveness of interventions and remain important in influencing behaviour  
  6. The role of cognitive factors is important in downstream financial behaviours 
  7. The earlier the better – interventions at a young age can positively enhance financial capability 
  8. Financial education affects both knowledge and behaviour, and is resistant to decay in the medium term 
  9. Some mainstream interventions, particularly digital, are still not well evidenced 
  10.  The use of return-on-investment of financial education interventions is growing, but still largely lacking 
  11.  Developing the financial capability of vulnerable children and young people requires tailored approaches and flexibility 

Who will this report be useful for?

We hope these findings will be useful for:

  • Policymakers working on financial education and other activity that supports children and young people’s financial capability.
  • Any organisations developing or delivering interventions aimed at improving children and young people’s financial capability.
  • Funders or other stakeholders concerned with the financial education of children and young people. 

About the authors

The review was conducted by Professor Tina Harrison, Dr Kitty Shaw and Professor Jake Ansell at the University of Edinburgh Business School