According to the first-ever S&P Global FinLit Survey, a detailed and comprehensive analysis of worldwide financial literacy by the World Bank, Gallup, and George Washington University, just one-third of the world’s population is financially literate. On a country-by-country basis, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden tied for first place, with 71 percent of their population ranking as financially literate. At the bottom of the spectrum was Yemen — just 13 percent of the Yemeni population was deemed financially literate by the S&P survey.
The U.S., meanwhile, ranked a less-than-impressive 14th in the world, with 57 percent of Americans passing the test set before them.
The rankings were calculated by interviewing more than 150,000 randomly selected adults in more than 140 countries over the course of 2014. Adults surveyed had to answer just five multiple-choice questions. In order to appeal to the broadest number of people as possibles, the questions are not specific to financial products like credit cards or mortgages; rather, they test on concepts that are involved in financial decision making.
Survey respondents were deemed financially literate if they could correctly answer three out of the five questions. And with only 33 percent of adults worldwide achieving that passing grade, the survey’s authors estimate that a whopping 3.5 billion adults around the world — many of them in developing countries — lack an understanding of basic financial concepts.
Ultimately, the survey authors hope that their findings will help inspire efforts to improve financial know-how around the world, and maybe even inspire a little bit more consumer protection efforts.
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