Should you have to pass a financial literacy test before you can open a bank account?
That's what a columnist for Bloomberg thinks, after seeing the results of the S&P; Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey, which was given to residents of 144 countries last year to get a clear picture of financial literacy levels around the world.
His conclusion was that banks should have to administer a similar financial literacy quiz to prospective customers before letting them borrow or invest:
No country allows someone who hasn't taken a driving test to drive a car on public roads. Yet all countries allow, even encourage their citizens, to hold banks accounts, take out loans and make investments, even though it has been shown countless times that many of them have no idea what they're doing and therefore could get hurt.
Personally I'd be happier if an airbag blew up in my face at the register every time I tried to buy something I didn't 100% need. But that's just my learning style.
Here are the questions from the official survey. After you take it, we'll show you the answers and your results below.
S&P; Financial Literacy Quiz
Feeling better? Worse? If you need to go close your credit cards and ask Google how your mortgage works, we can wait. In the meantime, here are some of the survey's findings for the U.S. population:
• Of all the topics tested, our country's worst subject is interest, which 40% of Americans answered incorrectly.
• We're as financially literate as New Zealand, but financially dumber than Australia, which suggests that beer makes you better at money.
• Poor Americans are worse at financial literacy than the poor in other wealthy countries. (Although various studies suggest that poor Americans still make pretty rational decisions about the shoddy financial products sold to them--they just aren't being well-served by traditional banks because they're not profitable enough.)
• Globally, about 5% more men are financially literate than women. But in the U.S., that gender gap doubles to 10%, which is somewhat surprising considering how much higher our national literacy average is compared to the global average. At any rate, rich countries with an even worse gender gap than ours include Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands.
• Americans who are saving for retirement (about 45% of respondents) are more financially literate than those who aren't.
Now that you've proven you're financially savvier than the average citizen, are you ready for another fun quiz? Our Insurance Checkup will highlight any weak spots in your current financial strategy so you know where to focus next.
Photo credit: Alberto G.