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Chowa, G. | Despard, M. | Osei-Akoto, I.
2012 | Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal

Financial knowledge and attitudes of youth in Ghana (YouthSave Research Brief 12-37)

Financial Inclusion

If provided an opportunity to save via formal financial services, will youth participate? This is one of the fundamental questions being asked by YouthSave, a four-country study targeted for young people ages 12 to 18 living predominantly in low-income households. Youth do save informally and, given an opportunity, may also participate in formal banking services (UNCDF, 2011). However, such opportunities are minimal. On the other hand, the limited research available suggests that financial inclusion has important youth development effects and deserves greater study (Chowa & Ansong, 2010; Deshpande & Zimmerman, 2010; Elliott, 2012; Scanlon & Adams, 2009; Ssewamala & Ismayilova, 2009). YouthSave is a pioneering project designed to increase savings and development among low-income youth in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. The goals of YouthSave research are to measure the uptake, savings outcomes, experiences, and impacts of Youth Savings Accounts (YSAs) on clients and financial institutions.

In Ghana, a rigorous research design that includes a control group, with quantitative and qualitative evidence, has been implemented to assess the impact of savings accounts on youth development and asset accumulation.

This research brief focuses on the financial knowledge, attitudes, and socialization of youth in the YouthSave Ghana Experiment as well as the financial knowledge of the youth’s parents and guardians. Financial knowledge refers to the understanding one has of important personal finance concepts, like budgeting and saving. Financial attitudes refer to one’s beliefs and values related to various personal finance concepts, such as whether one believes it is important to save money. Financial socialization refers to different ways that one may develop financial knowledge and attitudes, such as through classroom-based education or mass media. Youth financial capability refers to youth’s financial knowledge, skills, and access to financial services (Child and Youth Finance International, 2010; Sherraden, 2010). Studies in the United States reveal that youth often have low levels of financial knowledge (Lusardi, Mitchell, & Curto, 2010; Mandell, 2008). Research shows that parents also influence their children’s financial literacy, attitudes, and behaviors (American Savings Education Council, 1999; Bowen, 2002; Danes, 1994; Moschis, 1985; Serido, Shim, Mishra, & Tang, 2010; Shim, Barber, Card, Xiao, & Serido, 2010). Little research has been conducted to understand the financial knowledge, attitudes, and socialization experiences of youth in Ghana and other Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Research in YouthSave is anticipated to fill some of these gaps.

Chowa, G., Despard, M., & Osei-Akoto, I. (2012). Financial knowledge and attitudes of youth in Ghana (YouthSave Research Brief 12-37). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.