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Education and Saving: The Long-Term Effects<br> of High School Financial Curriculum Mandates

Jun 1997
Working Paper
490
By  B. Douglas Bernheim, Daniel Garrett, Dean Maki
Over the last forty years, the majority of states have adopted consumer education policies, and a sizable minority have specifically mandated that high school students receive instruction on topics related to household financial decision-making (budgeting, credit management, saving and investment, and so forth). In this paper, we attempt to determine whether the curricula arising from these mandates have had any discernable effect on adult decisions regarding saving. Using a unique household survey, we exploit the variation in requirements both across states and over time to identify the effects of interest. The evidence indicates that mandates have significantly raised both exposure to financial curricula and subsequent asset accumulation once exposed students reached adulthood. These effects appear to have been gradual rather than immediate—a probable reflection of implementation lags.