Financial literacy and well-being in a five generation America

October 2021

Are U.S adults at all ages equipped to meet common financial challenges?


With five years of the Gen Z cohort now over age 18, the U.S. adult population spans five generations. Gen Z was quota-sampled when fielding the 2021 P-Fin Index survey which enables comparisons with the other generations, as well as a closer examination within the Gen Z adult population. The P-Fin Index survey also includes indicators of financial wellness along several dimensions, and those too are examined across generations and within Gen Z.

Key Insights
Financial literacy tends to be low within each of the five generations, but particularly so among Gen Z. Two-thirds of Gen Z could answer only 50% or less of the index questions correctly.
Within Gen Z, financial literacy tends to be lowest among those who have never attended college. On average, this group correctly answered only 39% of the index questions.
Across generations, financial literacy tends to be greatest in the areas of borrowing and saving. However, financial literacy in these areas tends to be lower earlier in the lifecycle.
Gen Z is the generation most likely to have been offered and to have participated in a financial education class or program.
Financial challenges along many dimensions tend to be most common among Gen X, with 28% reporting they have difficulty making ends meet in a typical month.

The P-Fin Index survey is fielded online in January each year with a sample of U.S. adults, ages 18 and older. Responses are weighted to be nationally representative. With a sample size of 3,035 respondents and quota sampling for Gen Z, the 2021 survey allowed for comparisons across five generations of Americans.