Financial Literacy among U.S. Hispanics: New Insights from the Personal Finance (P-Fin) Index

October 2017

Using data from the first wave of the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index, this report examines financial literacy among Hispanic adults in the United States.

Summary

The authors’ analysis shows that Hispanics’ personal finance knowledge is generally lower than that of the overall U.S. adult population. The difference is prevalent across all demographic groups, except for young (ages 18-34) U.S.-born Hispanics, whose financial literacy is close to that of young non-Hispanic whites. The report findings also show a notable difference in financial literacy within the Hispanic population, with higher levels among U.S.-born Hispanics compared to those born elsewhere. This within-group difference cannot be attributed to differences in underlying demographics, as the finding is consistent when accounting for age, education and income. 

Key Insights
U.S.-born Hispanics ages 18-34 have greater financial literacy than each age group of foreign-born Hispanics.
Financial literacy programs that address U.S.-born and foreign-born Hispanics separately are likely to experience better results for both groups.
Since growth in the U.S. Hispanic population is driven largely by births, the gap in financial literacy should decrease over time. Gains in education attainment among Hispanics will likely further decrease the gap.
Given the modest levels of financial literacy in the general U.S. population, raising the overall level of financial literacy is paramount for sustaining the nation’s fiscal health.
Methodology

The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) is a survey-based assessment of knowledge required for sound financial decision-making and effective management of personal finances. The first wave of the survey was fielded online in September 2016 with a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults age 18 or older. Hispanics were oversampled during the survey fielding, with 1,018 participating. Respondents were given the option of taking the survey in Spanish or English.