Assessing the Outcomes of Financial Education (Working Paper #3)

Guide / Handbook
Date Published: 
Jan 2005
Sebstad, J., Cohen, M. & Stack, K.

How to assess the outcomes and impacts of financial education programs?

This paper presents a framework for studying the outcomes and impacts of financial education programs.The paper focuses specifically on outcomes of financial literacy in five thematic areas. These include:

  • Budgeting;
  • Savings;
  • Debt management;
  • Financial negotiations;
  • Bank services.

Under each thematic area, the paper suggests indicators to study changes in:

  • Financial knowledge;
  • Skills and attitudes;
  • Financial behaviors and practices;
  • Financial outcomes.

The paper asserts that systematic outcome assessments can enhance understanding of:

  • What works and why?
  • How can financial education programs be improved?
  • What is the value of investing in them?

It concludes that, in future, evaluation of outcomes and impacts of financial education programs should include a focus on:

  • Translation of indicators of financial knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and outcomes into appropriate measures of change;
  • Establishment of benchmarks of behavior change that can be expected from financial education programs;
  • Development of simple, practitioner-led progress tracking systems;
  • Expansion and elaboration of a conceptual framework to guide the design of financial education impact assessments.