Are business students more financially literate? Evidence of differences in financial literacy amongst Portuguese college students

Paulo Duarte, Susana Silva, Wilian Ramalho Feitosa*, Rui Sebastião

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Considering the importance of financial literacy (FL) in people’s lives the goal of this study aims to assess the level of FL of young Portuguese students, addressing the impact of the level of education on the FL of college students. Design/methodology/approach: Data from a non-probabilistic sample of 185 students attending higher education bachelor’s and master’s degrees courses in Economics, Management and Marketing was collected between February 25 and March 23, 2019, using an online questionnaire. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed using IBM SPSS 25 to analyze the data. Findings: The findings show that the level of the degree (bachelor’s or master’s degree) and the academic background of the individual’s parents have a positive impact on FL. Moreover, among individuals with a high level of FL, gender and professional situation are additional predictors. Furthermore, the authors observed that the level of FL of Portuguese students attending higher education is overall low, especially in terms of their knowledge of the main financial concepts, which may call for public policies to be implemented so that to reduce this vulnerability. Research limitations/implications: Among limitations is the limited sample collected, restricted to a particular target, Portuguese students attending business-related courses such as Economics, Management and Marketing, either studying for a master’s or bachelor’s degree. This issue restricts the generalization of the overall findings to other students studying different fields. Future studies can collect a random and representative sample. Practical implications: This study test can be replicated to generate a diagnosis in any region or country, identifying how financially literate the region under analysis is. Also, this can be done to verify the evolution of FL after educational interventions. Social implications: FL is an important competence. In fact, youngsters in the whole world have been suffering from a lack of financial knowledge (FK), and some characteristics of them can push them into indebtedness, and, even bankruptcy, such as a higher level of status consumption, the tendency to have an attitude of self-appraisal, to be self-centered, to seek instant gratification. This study helps to lead to a better understanding of this phenomenon. Originality/value: Addressing college students attending different levels is an add-on to the existing body of literature. This paper contributes to study differences in FL between college and master students, enlightening and evaluating the role of scholarship maturity on financial education. Furthermore, some of the findings challenge the extant knowledge regarding the influence of professional experience, gender and age on the level of FK that students have. Finally, the current approach is innovative as it addresses FK, FL and numeracy in the same study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-161
Number of pages18
JournalYoung Consumers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022


  • Consumer vulnerability
  • Financial education
  • Financial knowledge
  • Financial literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Regression analysis


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