Economics Department


ORCID IDs Manuel Förster

Date of this Version



Förster et al. Empirical Res Voc Ed Train (2019) 11:2

doi: 10.1186/s40461-019-0077-z


© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Background: In Germany, general secondary education offers few opportunities for young adults to acquire knowledge and understanding of personal finance. Hence, apart from parents’ influence as role models, important influences on young adults’ financial knowledge and understanding likely include their personal experience with financial products and their behavior of informally seeking information about specific financial products.

Methods: In this paper, we investigate the relationships between these latter variables based on a sample of 1108 young adults from Germany, aged 17–25, beginning their studies in higher education. Knowledge and understanding of personal finance was assessed using the German adaptation of the US Test of Financial Literacy. In this paper, we focus on the dimension ‘Banking’ (covering financial investing, saving, using credit). In addition, we surveyed young adults’ experience in basic personal finance matters (e.g., having a bank account, using a credit card, paying for rent) and their information behavior towards specific financial products (e.g., stocks, investment, retirement plans, and insurance).

Results: The data set was prepared through multiple imputation and analyzed using regression models. The results show clear correlations between knowledge and understanding in the dimension ‘Banking’ and both experience and information behavior in personal finance matters.

Conclusions: Our findings illustrate how important it is that young adults obtain experience with and actively inform themselves about financial products, particularly in countries such as Germany where personal finance is not taught extensively and systematically in school.