The challenge of assessing financial literacy: alternative data analysis methods within the Italian context

Paola Bongini, Paola Iannello, Emanuela E. Rinaldi, Emanuela Emilia Rinaldi, Mariangela Zenga, Alessandro Antonietti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

5 Citazioni (Scopus)


Background: Assessing individuals’ financial literacy levels is currently widely recognized as being necessary to design effective financial education programs and also to evaluate their actual impact. To address the lack of a consensus regarding an appropriate instrument to measure financial literacy, the OECD and its International Network on Financial Education (INFE) developed a core questionnaire in 2011, to be administered across a wide range of countries. Italy participated in the study with a survey promoted by the financial consortium ABI–PattiChiari. A tailored version of the OECD/INFE questionnaire was used in the survey, with three indicators of financial literacy taken from the OECD survey (financial behavior index, financial attitude index, financial knowledge index) and two new indicators (financial familiarity index and financial planning). Purpose: The present paper focuses on data analysis methods used to evaluate financial literacy among the Italian adult population. It reviews data analysis approaches used to evaluate financial literacy and proposes a new method to gauge this latent construct in order to obtain a valid and reliable index that is able to capture educational needs in a manner that is as accurate and targeted as possible. Methods: The sample used for the survey consisted of 1247 Italian residents of at least 18 years of age who were reached via CATI. The sample was obtained by appropriate stratification across several dimensions (gender, age, geographical area, and municipality size). We propose alternative data analysis methods to treat the survey data: item response theory (IRT) and classification and regression tree analysis. Results: The analysis highlighted the crucial role that data analysis methods play in assessing financial literacy. Comparing the results for classical test theory and IRT, this paper suggests that financial literacy research should be open to alternative and multiple approaches to obtain reliable measures of financial literacy that are able to capture the educational needs of different population groups and can help to design effective financial education programs.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)1-22
Numero di pagine22
RivistaEmpirical Research in Vocational Education and Training
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • CART analysis
  • IRT analysis
  • financial literacy index


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