NEFE Digest analyzes financial fragility statistics and factors

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A broad cross-section of Americans of all ages and incomes are financially fragile, a study from the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at The George Washington University found.

The study was reported on by the National Endowment for Financial Education in the summer 2018 edition of the NEFE Digest.

The study from the GFLEC defines financial fragility as the inability to cope with an immediate $400 emergency expense or being unable to come up with $2,000 in 30 days.

The report analyzed data from two nationally representative data sets – the 2015 National Financial Capability Study and the 2015 Survey of Household Economics and Decision making.

The NFCS survey found that household financial fragility remains high at 36 percent, while the SHED survey put the figure at 41 percent. The researchers focused on individuals who are in their prime working years (ages 25-60) and not retired.

The study found that women are significantly more likely to be financially fragile than men. Forty-two percent of women versus 29 percent of men are financially fragile, researchers found. Women in the 40-to-44-year-old age group are more likely to be financially fragile than 25-to-29-year-old women.

NFCS also found that financial fragility decreases steadily with increasing income. Households with annual incomes in the $35,000-$50,000 range (43 percent) are far more likely to be financially fragile than those earning more than $50,000 (28 percent).

Other factors that lead to financial fragility include education, ethnicity, marriage, employment and whether or not a household includes three or more dependent children.

Additionally, the lack of assets is a major contributor to financial fragility. For example, renting instead of owning a home means no equity is being gained.

The study also found that financial literacy lowers the likelihood of individuals being financially fragile significantly. This finding is consistent across all age categories and even when controlling for overall education attainment.

Click here to download the latest edition of the NEFE Digest and learn more about financial fragility.

As a reminder, the New York Credit Union Foundation is offering three separate training sessions this summer for individuals interested in teaching the NEFE High School Financial Planning Program. The program is focused on basic personal finance skills that are relevant to the lives of teens in grades 8-12.

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