The Routledge Handbook of Financial Literacy
Our goal in creating the Handbook on Financial Literacy was to edit a comprehensive reference work that would be useful to researchers, teachers, students, and policymakers. Interest in and work about financial literacy has exploded in recent years. While the vast amount of content available provides opportunities, it also creates challenges to those searching for the most rele-vant information.
One of our earliest discoveries in working on this volume was the various ways in which financial literacy has been defined. Thus, we provided a definition of both financial literacy and financial education to the authors whom we selected to write chapters. We defined financial literacy as a component of human capital that includes knowledge, skills, attitudes, and confi-dence related to financial decision- making. We defined financial education as a diverse set of interventions designed to change one or more of the components of financial literacy.
We then invited nearly 50 different authors from 19 different countries to contribute to this volume, which includes 32 chapters. While the authors represent diverse cultures and academic backgrounds, they all are leading scholars in work related to financial literacy.
The Handbook is divided into six different parts. Each part, and indeed each chapter, is self- contained and thus can be read in any order. Each part is described below.
• Part I includes five chapters that address the question: “What is financial literacy?” The chapters answer this question from different perspectives, including a chapter that reviews the literature that has offered various definitions of financial literacy and related terms over the years. Other chapters discuss what financial literacy means for children, young adults, and older adults. The fifth chapter discusses the meaning of financial literacy in the digital age.
• Part II includes four chapters that discuss various aspects of the thorny problem of measuring financial literacy. The chapters describe comprehensive measures of financial literacy, as well as measures that are more focused. One chapter delves into the role of numeracy in relation-ship to financial literacy. Another describes best practices in assessing financial literacy, and the fourth describes the need to customize financial literacy measures to match the objective of the assessment as well as the culture and economic system of the respondents.
• Part III describes the relevance and effectiveness of financial literacy as an influence on financial behaviors. One chapter makes the argument that financial literacy is a key element of post- COVID- 19 recovery.
• Part IV discusses the role of financial education in improving financial literacy. The seven chapters describe specific types of financial education (in schools, for adults, and in human trafficking interventions), the implications of Fintech for financial education, and the use of gamification in financial education. A final chapter argues for interventions other than financial education to improve financial literacy.
• Part V describes financial literacy and financial education around the world, with chapters devoted to the U.S., Canada, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Western Europe, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. A final chapter discusses issues related to financial literacy and financial education that are relevant in countries where Islamic finance is practiced.
• Part VI, the final part of the Handbook, is titled “Beyond financial literacy.” The three chapters describe newer developments in financial literacy – behavioral economics, the rela-tionship between financial literacy and financial well- being, and the relationship between financial literacy and financial inclusion.
The book is designed to be a useful reference to those who are interested in financial literacy and financial education. We expect the book will have value to diverse individuals: scholars who are new to the topic, including undergraduate and graduate students, experienced researchers who wish to enrich their knowledge, policymakers seeking a broader understanding and an international perspective, and practitioners who seek knowledge of best practices as well as innovative approaches.
The idea for the book and editorial project started in Spring 2019, but the core of the work began in January 2020. Thus, the invitations to the contributors, their work on the chapters, the revision phase, and the subsequent adjustments were completed during the critical time of the COVID- 19 pandemic. The uncertainty due to the pandemic, the restrictions to travel, the lockdowns, the need to work from home, the efforts to become familiar with web- based com-munication tools, and all of the psychological and emotional stress of that time represented a challenge for the project and its completion. The growing awareness that the world we live in has changed and a “new normal” was ahead affected not only the editors and contributors but also the contents of the book, as well as the perspective of several authors.
Knowing the many challenges of living and working during the COVID- 19 pandemic, as editors we want to acknowledge each of the contributors to the book for their commitment, their passion, and their expertise. We think that the quality of the chapters reflects all of the efforts of the authors, and we hope that they view the final output as rewarding the time and the energy invested in the project.
A last thought goes to the readers. We hope you will enjoy the book and that it will help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be (educational, professional, personal, etc.), not only to help you improve your knowledge about financial literacy and find answers to your questions, but also to stimulate new thoughts and consider new perspectives.
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|December 2, 2021|