Adolescents’ and Young Adults' Naïve Understandings of the Economic Crisis

Anna Emilia Berti, Anna Maria Ajello, Carmela Aprea, Ilaria Castelli, Elisabetta Lombardi, Antonella Marchetti, Davide Massaro, Viviana Sappa, Annalisa Valle


Over the last decade, Financial Literacy (FL) and interventions aimed at improving it, that is Financial Education (FE), have been the focus of increased attention from economists, governments, and international organizations such as the world Bank and OECD, but much less by scholars in the fields of Learning and Instruction. We examined open-ended written answers on the causes of the economic crisis that started in 2007-2008, as given by 381 Italian secondary school and university students, and 268 Swiss Italian-speaking secondary school students. Most Italian students mentioned internal political causes (i.e., corrupt politicians or inefficiency of the government), whereas Swiss students mentioned banks more often. International factors were rarely mentioned by either group, and explanations were generally very poor, listing a few causes without making connections between them. These findings indicate the need for economics education aimed at making people more knowledgeable of the workings of the economic system and the effects of financial systems on the real economy.


Financial Literacy; lay explanations; student's conceptions; economic crisis; secondary school; university students; Financial Education

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