Financial literacy and retirement fluency 

New insights for improving financial well-being

The 2024 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index

Executive Summary
Insights Report

New research shows U.S. adults struggle with retirement-related topics.


The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index), now in its eighth year, annually assesses financial literacy among U.S. adults and examines the relationship between financial literacy and financial well-being. In addition to a robust measure of overall financial literacy, the P-Fin Index provides a nuanced analysis of personal finance knowledge across eight areas in which individuals routinely function. For the first time, the 2024 P-Fin Index also assessed basic retirement fluency, i.e., knowledge that promotes financial well-being in retirement.

Key Insights

  • U.S. adults correctly answered only 48% of the 28 index questions in 2024, on average. This figure has hovered around the 50% mark since the inaugural 2017 survey. Comprehending risk has consistently been the area of lowest functional knowledge. On average, only 35% of these questions are answered correctly in 2024.
  • Compared to those with a very high level of financial literacy, those with a very low level are twice as likely to be debt-constrained; three and one-half times more likely to be financially fragile; four times more likely to lack one month of emergency savings; three times more likely to be not at all confident in their retirement income prospects; and three times more likely to spend 10-plus hours per week on personal finance issues.
  • Five questions were used this year to gauge retirement fluency, including knowledge of Social Security benefits, Medicare coverage of healthcare expenses, employment-based retirement savings, ensuring lifetime income, and life expectancy in retirement. Respondents on average correctly answered two out of the five questions. Twenty-six percent of those who correctly answered 4 or 5 questions are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement; 7% are not at all confident. These figures are essentially flipped among those who did not correctly answer any of the questions—10% are very confident and 29% are not at all confident.

Greater financial literacy generally translates into greater financial well-being, and lower financial literacy is generally associated with lower financial well-being.


The 2024 P-Fin Index survey was completed online in January by 3,876 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older. Respondents included 576 Asian Americans, 604 Black Americans, 637 Hispanic Americans, and 1,934 White Americans, as well as 646 Gen Z (born 1997–2003), 935 Gen Y (1981–1996), 955 Gen X (1965–1980), 1,148 Baby Boomers (1946–1964) and 192 Silent Generation (1929–1945). The survey data were weighted to be nationally representative.

Figure 20: Retirement fluency and retirement income confidence


Paul Yakoboski

TIAA Institute

Annamaria Lusardi

GFLEC, Stanford University

Andrea Sticha

GFLEC, Stanford University

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