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  Exploring the determinants of financial capability

   Department of Economics

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  Dr Vivien Burrows  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There has been a growing interest in the field of financial capability in recent years, as the array of financial decisions individuals are faced with have become increasingly complex. Financial capability encompasses the knowledge, attitudes and skills required to make sound financial decisions. Research has found that low levels of financial capability and literacy are associated with sub-optimal retirement saving (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2007), over-indebtedness (Gathergood, 2012; Lusardi and Tufano, 2009) and low wealth accumulation (Behrman et al., 2012). However, there has been less research focusing on understanding how financial capability develops. For example, what role does education play in developing financial capability? How important is family background or an individual’s experience of financial matters? How do particular life events help or hinder the development of financial capability?

 This project will explore how financial capability varies across different socio-demographic groups and analyse what factors help foster the development of financial capability. The project will make use of secondary but will also involve some collection and analysis of primary data (e.g. surveys, focus groups and interviews). The aim of the project is to add to our understanding of financial capability and how it develops in order to help identify effective interventions for developing it.

 Department of Economics, University of Reading:

The Department of Economics has a long and established track record of research, working with a wide variety of industrial and academic partners to achieve significant social and economic benefits. Research activity within the Department is broad and extensive; among our most active fields are business economics, development economics, behavioural economics, labour economics and sports economics.

We have an active community of 20-30 PhD students and provide you with the opportunity to carry out your studies and learn in a highly collaborative environment, putting you on the path to a successful career.

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhDs are available for study on a full-time basis over three years and part-time over four to six years, starting in the autumn term of the academic year. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, or at a distance for students who live outside the UK.


Applicants should have a good master degree in Economics or on a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. Submit an application for a PhD in Economics at

Economics (10)

Funding Notes

Funding opportunities are available on a competitive basis through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS). You can find more information here:


Behrman, J. R., Mitchell, O. S., Soo, C. K., Bravo, D., et al. (2012). How financial literacy affects household wealth accumulation. The American Economic Review, 102(3):300{304.
Gathergood, J. (2012). Self-control, financial literacy and consumer over-
indebtedness. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(3):590-602.
Lusardi, A. (2011). Americans’ Financial Capability. National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
Lusardi, A. and Mitchell, O. S. (2011). Financial literacy around the world: an
overview. Technical report, Cambridge University Press.
Lusardi, A. and Mitchell, O. S. (2007). Baby boomer retirement security: The
roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth. Journal of Monetary Economics, 54(1):205{224.
Lusardi, A. and Tufano, P. (2009). Debt literacy, financial experiences, and
overindebtedness. Technical report, National Bureau of Economic Research.
Taylor, M. (2011). Measuring financial capability and its determinants using survey data. Social Indicators Research, 102(2), 297-314.

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