Final Report


Figure 1 Impact on Financial Proficiency



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Figure 1 Impact on Financial Proficiency


Follow up test scores indicate that the average level of financial proficiency is significantly higher in the treatment group (60.4) than in the control group (56.1), as shown in Figure 1. The statistical test of these differences shows that the financial education program increased the level of proficiency on the financial knowledge test by 3.6 points7.

This 3.6 point increase corresponds to a 6.4% increase compared to the average in the control group (after one semester of treatment). According to CAEd, other school programs they have worked with in Brazil tend to improve test scores by 2.5% per school year. In Mexico, providing cash transfers to parents conditional on children’s school attendance improved test scores by 8-9% for 6-14 year olds (measured 6 years after the start of the transfers).

The effect size (0.25 of a standard deviation) is similar to the effect of a program in Colombia that provided low-income children with vouchers for half the cost of private secondary school (0.2 std. dev. after 6 years) and a program in India that provided remedial education to students lagging behind in school (0.28 std. dev. after two years, the effect of the same program after one year was 0.14 std. dev).

Test results also provide information on whether the program impacted boys and girls differently. At baseline, girls showed a higher level of financial proficiency than boys. Results show that the financial education program increased the level of financial proficiency both among female and male students (Figure 2). However, the effect of the program on financial literacy test scores is not statistically different across female and male students, meaning that the program increased test scores by approximately the same amount for female and male students.



Figure 2 Impact on Financial Literacy Test Scores – By Gender



B. Students’ Financial Autonomy and Intention to Save

The next outcome measures considered are students’ financial autonomy and intention to save. Both of these indicators were developed by CAEd as well, following methods that have been used in previous psychology studies. In the survey, students were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “I like to think carefully before deciding to buy something”, “I always try to save money to do things I really like,” “In my opinion, saving money every month is extremely beneficial”, and “I believe I can save a little every month.” Based on responses to these questions, CAEd created an aggregate measure of financial autonomy and intention to save.


At follow up, students in the treatment group obtained higher scores on the autonomy scale than students in the control group. For example, the average financial autonomy score for students in the treatment group is 51, compared to the control group at 49. Furthermore, students in the treatment group scored higher for “intention to save” (measured at 103) than those in the control group (measured at 97). These results are presented in Table 3 below.
Table 3 Financial Autonomy and Intention to Save Measures at Follow Up




Financial Autonomy

Intention to Save

Treatment

51

103

Control

49

97


C. Actual Saving and Spending Behavior

While the outcomes previously examined are based on intended financial behavior, several questions from the follow up survey also examined whether the intent translates into action. In particular, the survey asked students whether they do in fact save a fraction of their income. As previously noted, 51% of students have some form of income (from work or from parents) and about 37% are working. Furthermore, the survey asked students about their spending habits: whether they make a list of all expenses every month, and whether they often shop with a credit card or a booklet/installment plan in stores.


Results indicated that students in the treatment group exhibit significantly improved savings and spending behavior relative to the control group. A higher percentage of students in the treatment group save at least some of their income (50% in treatment compared to 44% in control) and make a list of monthly expenses (16% in treatment compared to 13% in control). Additionally, a lower percentage of students in the treatment group say that they often shop with a credit card (9% in treatment compared to 11% in control) or with a booklet/installment plan in the store (9% in treatment compared to 10% in control), relative to those in the control group, as illustrated in Figures 3 and 4.
Figure 3 Impact on Savings Behavior


Figure 4 Impact on Spending Behavior


D. Student Participation in Household Finance

Finally, the impact of financial education on students’ participation in household finances is explored. In addition to a follow up survey administered to students, a separate survey was given to parents. The parent survey contained questions to determine whether the student talks to his/her parent about finances, and whether the student is involved in organizing the household budget.


Figure 5 Impact on Student Participation in Household Finances


Results show that compared to the control group, a larger percentage of students in the treatment group talk to their parents about finances and participate in organizing the household budget. As shown in Figure 5 above, 70% of parents of students in the treatment group report that their child talks to them about finances, compared to only 67% in the control group. Similarly, 52% of parents of students in the treatment group report that their child participants in budgeting for the household, relative to only 48% in the control group. These results suggest that the financial education program has been effective in increasing students’ participation in their household finances.

The Dissemination Workshop

The São Paulo Stock Exchange (BM&FBOVESPA) and the World Bank jointly organized a workshop to disseminate the initial results of the impact evaluation of Brazil’s school-based Financial Education Program. The workshop took place at the Convention Center of the Rio Stock Exchange, and drew participation from educators, researchers, policy makers, representatives from the financial sector, and broad representation of both the national and international press. Opening remarks were provided by: Ms. Maria Helena Santana, president of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Brazil (CVM, in its Portuguese acronym); Mr. José Antonio Gragnani, BM&FBOVESPA Chief Business Development Officer; Mr. Makhtar Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brazil; Mr. Sérgio Jamal Gotti, representative from the Ministry of Education, and Ms. Juliana Barral, representative from the Central Bank.

The agenda for the workshop is presented in Annex II. Summaries of the presentations made during both days of the workshop are presented in Annex III8. During the second day of the workshop, educators from some of the schools that participated in the pilot shared their experiences implementing the project. Officials from the six participating states presented their experiences, which ranged from student-made videos, to recorded teacher and student testimonies on the impact of the program, to business plans for a beauty salon. The complete presentations are included in Annex IV. In addition to the findings presented above, some key comments and discussion points are summarized in the next section.

Main Comments and Discussion generated

The results presented at the workshop were met with great enthusiasm by participants, especially given the incipient nature of the intervention. Some speakers provided words of caution on the results and also some hypotheses as to why early results were so positive. One suggestion was that these significant early results may be due to the targeted audience, in that it is the student’s main task in school to be taught and then tested for mastery of content. Therefore, students may show greater improvement in these types of test-content situations, when compared to working adults for example. More important results will be the change in capabilities or actual behavior, and not their change in attitudes or knowledge of the subject. The current evaluation is uniquely positioned to be able to capture some of these more important longer-term effects by its ability to track individual behavior over time. All students participating in the study (treatment and control groups) are expected to be issued an ID number, the CPF9., as part of the study This ID number will allow for obtaining longer-run follow-up data, such as credit scores from the credit registry.

Many questions from the audience and also comments from local researchers and consultants focused on the more practical side of the results. Some questions asked included:


  • Based on these results, what needs to be improved, in terms of financial literacy?

  • What is more urgent and should be prioritized?

  • Are the results from these tests good or bad?

  • What was learned in terms of the implementation of the pilot? Do certain activities or materials work better than others in terms of effectiveness?

Many comments made during the presentations related to the broader issue of what should be the goals of a financial literacy program. This included a particular concern by many workshop participants on how the program tackles questions of consumerism and its effects on children and their education and up-bringing. Many expressed the desire to discuss ways to teach adolescents how to deal with constant advertising, or ideals and role models based on material acquisitions.

Press Coverage

The event was covered extensively by the Brazilian media, with several press representatives present at the event, including journalists from the largest news outlets in Brazil, such as O Globo, Valor Econômico, Folha de São Paulo and Agência Estado. Most articles focused on the positive effects of the program, and the potential for such a micro initiative to affect savings behavior in Brazil, potentially helping to fight inflation and boost investments levels in the country, two very pressing issues in Brazil at the moment. The list of news organizations that were present at the press conference held on the first day of the workshop, as well as the full length articles that appeared in the press covering the event are presented in Annex V. Highlights of the coverage are included below:

"Um estudo elaborado pelo Banco Mundial (Bird) divulgado ontem mostra que os alunos da rede pública que recebem aulas de finanças pessoais estão mais preparados para lidar com dinheiro e conceitos de gasto e poupança." Finanças nas escolas públicas (O Globo)

"O diretor do Banco Mundial para o Brasil, Makhtar Diop, disse que, com a estabilidade financeira por que passa o país, o principal desafio de longo prazo é a necessidade de aumentar o nível de poupança interna." Projeto ensina estudantes a lidar com dinheiro (Valor Econômico)


Articles were also posted in foreign newspapers.

“El nivel de educación financiera mejoró significativamente entre los jóvenes brasileños que participaron del programa piloto desarrollado por el grupo Estrategia Nacional de Educación Financiera (Enef), informó el Banco Mundial (Bird).” El Banco Mundial apoyó programa de educación financiera en Brasil (El Cronista Comercial, Argentina)



Conclusion

Initial results suggest that the first semester of the high school financial education program increased students’ financial knowledge and improved students’ financial attitudes. The program also led to changes in student financial behavior. Specifically, due to the program, students are more likely to save and manage their expenses, talk to their parents about financial matters, and help with organizing the household budget. However, it is important to stress that these results provide evidence only for short-term effects, as the survey looked at outcomes only four months after the program began. The long-term effects are yet to be determined. A second follow-up survey, to be conducted approximately 15 months after the start date of the program, will ascertain whether the improvements observed in the short-term persist and are larger in the longer-term. These longer-term results will also inform the greater scope of this research, which is to develop concrete, evidence-based policy advice on whether and how to scale up financial literacy programs for students.

Some implementation issues that will need to be reviewed as the pilot project and the impact evaluation progress to their next phase include:


  • The number of students who completed the follow-up survey is much smaller (about 65 percent of the number of students at baseline):

  • Some schools did not participate in the follow-up survey

  • Timing of the follow-up survey varied across schools, leading perhaps to different response rates

  • Very few students filled out the survey in some schools

  • Some students dropped out between baseline and follow-up

The implementation and research teams will need to examine these issues in more detail and try to improve responses rates for the following phase of the impact evaluation analysis. The team is already considering conducting the survey at the beginning of November, when all students will still be in school, instead of at the end of November, to ensure higher response rates.

Annex I: Details on Methodology and Statistical Significance of Results

Statistical Estimation of Treatment Effects

Basic regression equation estimated:



yi = α + b · Treatmenti + γ · xi + εi

where:


  • yi is student i’s outcome (e.g. score from the financial test)

  • Treatmenti is a variable that indicates if student i belongs to a treatment school

  • xi is a vector that includes student i’s baseline score and student i’s school pair indicator

    • These are included since they can increase statistical power for detecting the effect

  • β = treatment effect (difference in averages between treatment and control group)

  • ε is the error term, clustered at the school level

Regression Results (with Statistical Significance Levels)10

A. Financial proficiency
Table 4 Financial proficiency




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