Effect of financial literacy on financial outcomes in South Africa
Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research assignment measures the relative odds of certain savings and debt related outcomes based on various domains of financial literacy, I.E. financial control, financial product choice and financial knowledge/understanding? It also measures the relative odds of certain savings and debt related outcomes based on individual elements of each of these domains. Finally it measures the significance in which overall financial literacy, as a product of the various domains, affect the odds of certain financial outcomes relative to other more conventional demographic determinants, such as income, education and age? The data that informs this research was obtained from the Financial Services Board (FSB) of South Africa, who commissioned the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to conduct the original data collection process by means of a national survey, in 2011. The salient findings of this research include that the relative odds of savings outcomes are by and large more significantly affected by both the individual elements of– and the various domains of financial literacy, than debt related outcomes. Financial control as a domain of financial literacy has the greatest impact on the relative odds of both savings and debt related outcomes, while financial knowledge/understanding has a comparatively weak influence on the relative odds of savings and debt related outcomes. Financial control also has a significant influence on financial outcomes relative to conventionally significant determinants of financial outcomes, namely income and education, especially among lower income and or non-tertiary educated segments of the population. The individual elements of financial control that appear to be most significant in its influence on the relative odds of savings and debt related outcomes, include the use of a budget and an individual‟s reliability in paying his or her bills. The individual elements of the financial product choice domain that have the largest and or most consistent influence on the relative odds of savings outcomes are the extent of research before obtaining financial products and the level of general awareness of financial products. On the other hand, for debt related outcomes, the most influential independent variables (part of the financial product choice domain) are recent regret regarding financial product choice, recent wasteful expenditure on financial products as well as the extent to which an individual is able to identify suitable products. In terms of the individual elements of financial knowledge and understanding, the ability of individuals to understand compound interest affects the relative odds of debt related outcomes most consistently. Forevery savings outcome of interest, the predictor variable (part of the financial knowledge/understanding domain) with the most significant influence is the ability to understand interest on deposits. The research furthermore uncovered that overall financial literacy has a consistently significant influence on savings outcomes relative to conventional determinants of financial outcomes such as income, age and education if the highest categories of income and education are omitted from analysis. Financial literacy is therefore a very good predictor of saving related outcomes when considering the lower income and or non-tertiary educated segments of the population.