The financial literacy of Finns second best in an OECD survey

Submitted on Wed, 10/12/2016 - 12:40

In a new study published by OECD, Finns’ financial literacy is second best in a comparison of thirty countries. The French have the best financial literacy. Of the countries included in the survey, seventeen were members of the OECD and thirteen were not.

The results on Finland were based on a survey conducted at the University of Vaasa and the University of Tampere. Professor of Economics Panu Kalmi from the University of Vaasa and Research Director Olli-Pekka Ruuskanen from the School of Management at the University of Tampere were the principal investigators.

OECD’s definition of financial literacy is based on three areas: financial knowledge, financial behaviour and financial attitudes. Finland is consistently strong in all these areas.

Financial knowledge was measured, for example, with questions related to interest rates and understanding inflation; financial behaviour with questions on budgeting, paying bills and choosing products, and financial attitudes with questions related to saving and planning ahead.

Even though financial literacy is high in Finland, the same is not true everywhere. According to OECD, lack of financial literacy is a global problem. Especially the poor understanding of interest rate levels and the significance of investment diversification causes concern. Financial literacy should be more systematically promoted in schools. In addition, OECD recommends that financial regulation and consumer protection take into account the challenges in financial literacy.

The results from the OECD / INFE international survey were presented in a high-level international symposium in Auckland, New Zealand on 12 October. The report was presented by Flore-Anne Messy, Head of the Financial Affairs Division of OECD. The survey data was gathered in 2014–2015. Over 50,000 adults in the age group of 18–79 years from thirty different countries participated in the survey.

The data on Finland was gathered in February-April 2014 with about 1,500 adults participating. The research results on Finland were first reported in October 2014.

For Finland, the newsworthiness of the new OECD comparison lies in the fact that the results from Finland were presented in an international context. Finland was the only country where the data was gathered by universities instead of national financial authorities. The research was funded by the Academy of Finland, OP Group Research Foundation, FINE - the Finnish Financial Ombudsman, Foundation for Economic Education, Aktia Foundation of Vaasa and the Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion. The University of Vaasa and the University of Tampere commissioned TNS Gallup to gather the data.

OECD / INFE International Survey Adult Financial Literacy Competencies report

For more information, please contact:     
Professori Panu Kalmi, University of Vaasa, tel. +358 44 712 3049
Research Director Olli-Pekka Ruuskanen, University of Tampere, tel. +358 40 190 9781