There is a significant gender gap in Canada when it comes to financial literacy compared with other developed nations, according to the results of a survey published on Wednesday by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P).
Canada ranks fourth in the world in terms of adult financial literacy, the study finds, with 68% of the adult population considered literate when it comes to basic financial matters. Only Denmark, Norway and Sweden rank higher than Canada, with their 71% literacy rates. Canada is tied with Israel, just ahead of the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. The United States ranks 15th with a 57% literacy rate.
However, the research also finds that Canada suffers from an outsized gender gap when it comes to financial literacy, with 77% of men considered to be financially literate, versus just 60% of women. This 17-percentage-point gap is twice as large as in the other G7 advanced economies, the S&P survey notes.
Worldwide there is a five-point gender gap, the survey finds, with 35% of men considered financially literate, compared with 30% of women. In the U.S., men’s financial literacy averages 10 percentage points higher than women’s. Notably, in China and South Africa, there was no gender gap, the survey finds.
For Canada, men and women score about equally on their understanding of inflation, the survey reports, but on every other topic, particularly their understanding of the concept of interest, women score lower than men.
There is also a wealth gap when it comes to financial literacy in Canada, the research finds, with 73% of adults in the richest 60% of households rated as financially literate, versus 61% of those in the poorest 40% of households. This is more or less in line with the other major advanced economies, according to the survey.
The survey also finds that about half of Canadians save for old age, and, of this group, 76% of them are financially literate. The understanding of financial concepts “is much lower” among those who do not save for retirement, the survey finds, with just 60% of these adults considered financially literate.
The overall survey — which was compiled by Gallup, the World Bank, and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at the George Washington University — finds major deficiencies globally in terms of understanding of savings and borrowing. According to the survey, two-thirds of adults worldwide are not financially literate, and it also observes a wide gap between men and women’s literacy generally.
“My hope is that this data will help policymakers in finding ways to boost financial literacy and consumer protection and help open the door to greater financial inclusion and economic empowerment,” says one of the author’s of the study, Annamaria Lusardi, the academic director of GFLEC, in a statement. “This data clearly shows we need to step up the effort to improve financial literacy around the world. And we need to focus on some vulnerable groups, such as women and the young.”
The survey results are based on interviews with more than 150,000 adults in more than 140 countries who were tested on their knowledge of four basic financial concepts: numeracy, interest compounding, inflation, and risk diversification. The data were collected in 2014 by Gallup and the data was analyzed by researchers at the World Bank Development Research Group and the GFLEC.