Financial Capability and Financial Literacy among Working Women: New Insights

Research Report
Insights Report

Improvements in the overall economy between 2012 and 2015 have enhanced working women's short-term financial position. But their long-term financial status and levels of financial knowledge have changed very little.


Women today contribute more to the U.S. economy than ever before. Yet compared to men, they still face steep financial challenges. This study's authors examined data from two national studies to assess how working women's financial knowledge and behaviors have changed over time and in comparison to men. Their research incorporates short- and long-term measures of financial capability for working women overall as well as various demographic subgroups.

Key Insights

  • While the percentage has decreased since 2012, 33% of working women still can’t meet an unexpected $2,000 expense within 30 days.
  • Working women who retire early, have children, or are widowed, divorced, or separated all show signs of short-term financial distress.
  • In 2015, 75% of working women held long-term debt, with many believing they carry too much debt.


Using data from the 2012 and 2015 waves of the National Financial Capability Study, the researchers examined changes in 6,684 working women's financial behaviors over a three-year period. The women studied range in age from 23 to 65 years old and are all employed either full or part time.

Financial Capability and Financial Literacy among Working Women: New Insights


Annamaria Lusardi

GFLEC, The George Washington University

Carlo de Bassa Scheresberg

Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center

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