The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers

Patrick J. Bayer, B. Douglas Bernheim, John Karl Scholz

NBER Working Paper No. 5655
Issued in July 1996
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging, Public Economics

We examine the effects of education on financial decision-making skills by identifying an interesting source of variation in pertinent training. During the 1990s, an increasing number of individuals were exposed to programs of financial education provided by their employers. If, as some have argued, low saving frequently results from a failure to appreciate economic vulnerabilities, then education of this form could prove to have a powerful effect on rates of behavior. The current paper undertakes an analysis of these programs using a previously unexploited survey of employers. We find that both participation in and contributions to voluntary savings plans are significantly higher when employers offer retirement seminars. The effect is typically much stronger for non-highly compensated employees than for highly compensated employees. The frequency of seminars emerges as a particularly important correlate of behavior. We are unable to detect any effects of written materials, such as newsletters and summary plan descriptions, regardless of frequency. We also present evidence on other determinants of plan activity.

download in pdf format
   (1559 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5655

Published: Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 2009. "The Effects Of Financial Education In The Workplace: Evidence From A Survey Of Employers," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(4), pages 605-624, October. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Bernheim, Garrett, and Maki w6085 Education and Saving: The Long-Term Effects of High School Financial Curriculum Mandates
Bernheim and Garrett w5667 The Determinants and Consequences of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Households
Lusardi and Mitchell w12585 Baby Boomer Retirement Security: the Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth
Campbell w12149 Household Finance
Lusardi w13824 Household Saving Behavior: The Role of Financial Literacy, Information, and Financial Education Programs
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us