Department of Economics


Date of this Version



Happ, Roland, Susanne Schmidt, Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, andWilliam Walstad. 2023. How Gender and Primary Language Influence the Acquisition of Economic Knowledge of Secondary School Students in the United States and Germany. Journal of Risk and Financial Management 16: 160. 16030160


Open access.


Economics has become an essential component of secondary school curricula in many countries as a result of the growing awareness that young adults need fundamental economic knowledge to manage their personal finances. Accordingly, an increasing number of comparative studies are being conducted of commonalities and differences in students’ economic knowledge and its most decisive influencing factors within and across countries. In this study, we compare the performance of secondary school students in the United States (N = 3517) and Germany (N = 983) on the fourth version of the Test of Economic Literacy. We investigate two personal characteristics that have been found to influence the students’ acquisition of economic knowledge: gender and primary language. Although these two characteristics have been considered in numerous studies of economic education in both countries, they have not been investigated together in an international comparison, which would allow more effective pedagogical approaches for economic education to be formulated. We found male students in both countries exhibited greater economic knowledge, and students whose primary language was the same as the national language performed better. We discuss implications for economic education in both countries and cross-nationally.