George Washington University Study Finds a Major Racial Gap in Financial Literacy

A new report from the Global Finance Literacy Excellence Center in the School of Business at George Washington University and the TIAA Institute found a large racial gap between White and Black adults in the United States in financial literacy. The term financial literacy is defined as knowledge and understanding that enable sound financial decision-making and effective management of personal finances.

The survey measured eight key areas of personal finance knowledge: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing and managing debt, insuring, comprehending risk and uncertainty, and go-to information sources. The results found that African-American adults answered 38 percent of the questions correctly, compared to 55 percent of White adults. Only 28 percent of African American adults answered over one-half of the questions correctly. For White adults, the figure was 62 percent.

African Americans scored highest in the areas of borrowing and debt management and lowest in the areas of insuring, risk management, and investing.

According to the authors, “there is a strong link between financial literacy and financial wellness among African-Americans. Those who are more financially literate are more likely to plan and save for retirement, to have non-retirement savings and to better manage their debt; they are also less likely to be financially fragile.”

The gap in financial knowledge between African Americans and Whites can be partially attributed to underlying demographic differences between the two groups. However, the differences cannot account for the entire gap as financial literacy is still lower for African Americans compared to Whites in each demographic subgroup reported in this study.

The full report, Financial Literacy and Wellness Among African-Americans, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. This is another glaring example of White academia penchant to portray the so-called Black community in a negative frame of reference to make Whites “appear” more intelligent across the spectrum. I wonder why these pseudo White scholars conduct a more representative study by comparing Whites to the Asian, Latino, and other communities.

    • Of course it is the fault of White People that Blacks have lower financial acumen.

      Play the race card in order to avoid any personal responsibility for your situation.

      Booker T. Washington identified your ilk in “Up From Slavery” as they type of black that wants to keeps black as victims.

  2. Michael, well said. Personally attempting to portray one group as so called literate vs another group and not designing qualitative empirical studies comparing different ethnic and racial groups would better show the gains groups who in the past have faced covert and overt discrimination and where they are now. Pseudo white intellectuals have stirred the pot in because it puts them in the frame as savior to African Americans but in actuality they have designed a system of psychological programming that stunts a group into feeling a sense of inferiority. A true disservice to the African American citizen and what they have accomplished through many horrendous discriminatory practices. Instead of looking at economic standards they are constantly focusing on race. This will always lead to alienation of groups of people who are achieving success. Poor people do not have access to certain opportunities regardless of ethnic and racial background and these pseudo intellectuals are doing more harm.

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