Students in Shanghai score highest for financial literacy

15-year-olds in 18 countries and economies were asked series of questions to judge ability to solve financial problems

Only one in 10 students was able to tackle the most complex financial tasks on the test.

Only one in 10 students was able to tackle the most complex financial tasks on the test.

Wed, Jul 9, 2014, 19:17

Students in Shanghai in China have the highest financial literacy in the OECD, according to a new study.

With a mean score of 603 points, they finished a test to measure the ability of 15-year-olds to solve financial literacy problems 103 points above the OECD average.

Students in Australia, the Dlemish Commmunity of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, New Zealand and Poland also scored highly in the survey. Students in Ireland did not participate.

Across the 18 countries and economies which participated in the test, only one in ten students scored at the highest financial literacy proficiency level, proving they can solve non-routine financial problems like calculating the balance on a bank statement when accounting for factors such as transfer fees.

At the other end of the spectrum, 15 per cent of students scored “below the baseline level of performance”, meaning they could at best make simple decisions about everyday spending, recognise the purpose of financial documents like an invoice, and use basic mathematics like adding and multiplying in contexts they are likely to have personally encountered.

New Zealand had the greatest disparity between the highest-performing 10 per cent of students and the lowest performing 10 per cent, with a points difference of more than 300.

The report found that while skills in mathematics and reading help, students with high proficiency in one of these core subjects did not necessarily do well in the financial literacy test.

Socio-economic background was more important, with students from wealthier backgrounds performing 41 points higher on average than students from a less advantaged background.

The test also revealed no difference in financial literacy between boys and girls in 17 out of the 18 countries and economies that participated, in contrast to previous OECD studies which have consistently shown a gender gap in mathematics and reading performance.

In Australia, the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, France, New Zealand and Slovenia, more than 70 per cent of 15-year-olds hold a bank account, but in Israel, Poland, and Slovakia, fewer than 30 per cent do, the survey found.