Toward Financially Capable Youth

Insights from YouthSave’s Financial Education
Policy Paper
Sept. 9, 2015

As part of the YouthSave project, Save the Children (SC) carried out financial education (FE) activities in Colombia, Kenya, and Nepal to teach adolescent youth how to make the best use of their savings accounts and about sound personal financial management generally. To evaluate the effectiveness of these activities, SC tested the participating youth before and after the FE sessions, assessing any changes in related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. 

We found statistically significant improvements in participants’ values related to saving, their attitudes towards banks, and their knowledge about the more technical aspects of saving and budgeting. Less change was observed around more general topics that could be learned through everyday experience or reasonably inferred, such as the purpose of a budget or understanding that budgeting helps with saving. Our experience also suggests that longer and deeper engagement with youth brought greater knowledge and attitude improvements, and was particularly important in reaching girls. In terms of behavior changes, after the FE trainings, a greater number of youth reported that they had opened a savings account, were actually saving, or were saving more. 

While it is not possible to attribute causality in this analysis, the results are in line with findings of several randomized controlled trials that demonstrated similar changes. Our results therefore add to the body of evidence indicating the promise of youth FE, and the need for further investment in rigorous impact analysis that can guide practitioners towards effective implementation.