How does financial literacy help you

Financial competence : Teenagers are clueless about money matters

Berlin - "I have no idea what is going on on the stock exchange" - half of the young people openly admit that. Almost as many of the 15 to 20 year olds do not know what options they have to invest their money. And only a third feel that they are generally well informed about financial matters. That is the result of a study that the credit reporting agency Schufa and the Society for Consumer Research (GFK) presented on Tuesday in Berlin.

The young people show an interest in economic and financial topics. 86 percent of young people say that “information about money is important” for them. When it comes to general economic topics, interest increases with age. Among 15 to 17 year olds, 25 percent say they are interested in such topics. Among the 18 to 20 year olds it is already 43 percent. According to the authors of the study, the fact that they are still not better informed is mainly due to the complexity and the amount of information that overwhelms the young people. And the fact that nobody helps them to classify the information.

"Most of the help in terms of finances is what the young people expect from school," says GFK researcher Karsten John. According to the survey, 60 percent of 15 to 20 year-olds would like more information on economic issues in class.

Economy as a school subject

But so far this is only offered in very few schools, criticizes Klaus Hurrelmann, professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He, too, regularly examines young people's attitudes towards finance. He demands: “Economics should of course be a compulsory subject in school.” The teachers have long since recognized that the students need more education in topics such as economics and finance. But instead of offering their own subject, schools would generally only take advantage of offers from banks or insurance companies that send their employees to the schools. “But these offers are strongly guided by interests,” he says. If a banker explains to young people how they can save money, it is “not a neutral lesson”. Therefore, such events could only be a supplement and should not, as is often the case, replace the actual teaching.

Most 15- to 20-year-olds consider the Internet, which today's young people take for granted, to be unsuitable for finding out about the economy. Every second person in the GFK survey stated that they lost track of financial issues due to the flood of information on the Internet. Economics professor Hurrelmann says that is no wonder. "When it comes to financial issues, the Internet is only helpful for users who have already been informed and are able to make decisions," he says. And the young people would first have to be trained for these enlightened, decision-making users.

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