Children and Youth Economic Empowerment







Full text


Children and Youth

eConomiC empowerment

Aligning ReseARch, Policy And PRActice

18 november 2014, the hague


Event Manager

Daina Toleikyte


T: +31 20 - 760 13 40

Event Coordinator

Daniel Shephard


T: +31 20 - 760 13 40


Petra van Dijk


T: +31 20 - 760 13 40



Children and youth are exposed to more financial decisions of greater complexity at an increasingly early age. In a study of 164 countries by the World Bank, undertaken in 2011, 33% of young people between the ages of 15 to 24 had taken out a loan, 8% had already accumulated outstanding healthcare loans, and only 34% were saving.1

Youth employment has been a persistent economic and social issue that has worsened due to the recent economic crisis. Over 70 million youth are out of work, and unemployment rates are two to five times higher among youth than among other groups.2 The need to provide economic empowerment programmes for children and youth is all the more important given the persistence of intergenerational poverty and the reality that hundreds of millions of children are living in extreme poverty.3 A wealth of research has shown that a person’s attitudes and financial skills have a major impact on long-term financial well-being. So what can be done to empower young people to face these challenges? Which youth employment policies and programmes are most effective? What type of educational programmes work best? At what age should one start with financial education? Should it be focused only on financial skills or combined with the development of other personal, social and life skills? Is there sufficient evidence to support such choices? Unfortunately, the current and complete state of evidence relating to youth finance is not well known by policymakers or practitioners. It is also not well known among those working on child and youth policies for youth employment, financial inclusion and financial education. This symposium will address two closely linked questions. Firstly: How can researchers produce more salient evidence that links to practice? Secondly: How can practitioners and policymakers develop more effective programmes and policies that build on existing evidence?



This event - hosted by Aflatoun, Child Savings International - seeks to address this need by providing a) an overview of the research, and b) a space to discuss how research, practice and policy alignment can be improved.

The morning session will outline cutting-edge research on effective interventions in addressing youth employment, financial inclusion and financial education. This will include results from systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials (RCTs), and their implications for policy and practice.

The afternoon session will consist of a closed, invitation-only session. The purpose of this session is for key policy and practice stakeholders as well as influential academics to share reflections on the current state of alignment. It will also provide an opportunity to debate recommendations for improved collaboration.

1 Demirguc-Kunt and Klapper, 2012. The World Bank Financial Index.

The World Bank: Washington DC.

2 Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013: A generation at risk /

International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO, 2013

3 Olinto, P. et al. 2013. The State of the Poor: Where are the poor,

where is extreme poverty hard to end, and what is the current profile of the world’s poor? Economic Premise October 2013 Number 125. The World Bank.


morning programme / 09:45 – 13:15

WhAt does the ReseARch sAy?

International Institute of Social Studies

Kortenaerkade 12 2518 AX The Hague The Netherlands Tel: +31 70 426 0460

Youth labouR MaRkEt intERvEntions Summary of findings regarding what works for youth employment interventions • Mr Jonathan Stöterau, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

10:30 - 10:50


09:00 - 09:45


13:00 - 13:15

lunCh buFFEt

13:15 - 14:00


Facilitated by Prof. Menno Pradhan,

University of Amsterdam

12:30 - 13:00


Facilitated by Mr Ronald Messelink,

International Child Support (ICS)

11:10 - 11:30

opEning WElCoME aDDREss

• Prof. Kristen Cheney,

International Institute of Social Studies

09:45 - 10:00

assEt thEoRY & pRoviDing FinanCial aCCEss FoR Youth

Looking into asset theory and recent findings linking financial access and outcomes

• Prof. David Ansong,

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

10:50 - 11:10

a CRitiquE oF FinanCial EDuCation

Meta-analysis of quantitative research on financial

education across all age groups

• Prof. Daniel Fernandes,

Catholic University of Portugal

11:30 - 11:50

a WaY FoRWaRD FoR FinanCial EDuCation Summary of differential effects of financial education interventions globally for children and youth

• Mr Daniel Shephard,

Aflatoun, Child Savings International

11:50 - 12:10

ing intERnational suRvEY

“Learning young: Does getting pocket money teach savings habits for life?”

• Mr Maarten de Jongh,

ING Bank

12:10 - 12:30

kEYnotE aDDREssEs

• Mr Olaf Simonse,

Ministry of Finance, The Netherlands • Dr Musa Gusau Hassan,

Nigeria National Commission for Mass Literacy


aFternoon programme / 14:00 – 16:30

FRom ReseARch to Policy And PRActice And bAck

Discussion on how mechanisms can be improved to facilitate research suited to informing policy and practice, as well as mechanisms to strengthen the role of evidence in crafting and revising future and current policy and practice. The session will feature the following key discussants:

• Mr Jared Penner, Child and Youth Finance International • Prof. Peter Davies, University of Birmingham

• Ms Adele Atkinson, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

• Mrs Connie Kateeba, Uganda National Curriculum

Development Centre (NCDC) International Institute of Social Studies Kortenaerkade 12 2518 AX The Hague The Netherlands Tel: +31 70 426 0460

14:00 - 16:00

ConClusions anD RECoMMEnDations

16:00 -16:30


16:30 -17:30

Points To Be Discussed

Findings from recent community-based research on how to create better links between research and practice, challenges and recommendations.

Exploration of the role of practitioners in research,

sharing from key civil society organizations and researchers on the contribution that practitioners can and are making to research and how this link can be strengthened.

Discussion by researchers and policymakers on challenges, successes, and recommendations for how to improve knowledge translation from research into policy.

Discussion on how policy questions and needs can better inform research questions, timeliness and methodologies.


Young men and women have been particularly affected by the economic crisis. In 2008–2009, the global youth unemployment rate saw its largest annual increase and it is projected to increase even further (ILO, 2013). Therefore, policymakers are seeking new ideas and evidence on what works best to improve the labour market conditions of young people.

This presentation will show results from a 3ie-supported Systematic Review of the available evidence on the effectiveness of youth employment programmes. Our study is the first to document recent impact evaluations across a broad spectrum of youth interventions in a systematic, rigorous manner. Through an extensive search of the available literature 32,117 potentially relevant primary studies were identified. Our resulting data set comprises more than 1,900 effect sizes from 53 studies that were considered of adequate content and methodological rigour to inform the meta-analysis. Additionally, for each of these studies, we collect detailed information about the intervention design and the research methods employed for its evaluation. The data presented allow us to analyse effects of youth interventions in different contexts and across different intervention types, from skills training to public works programmes. Furthermore, the presentation will review the current state of methods. It analyses the methods used to evaluate the labour market effects of such interventions, as well as highlighting gaps in the available evidence. Finally, we will discuss how to deal with the challenges that arise in synthesising the evidence across a heterogeneous range of interventions.

MR Jonathan stÖtERau

RWI, Germany

Youth labour Market interventions

What Works in Youth Employment? A Systematic Review of the Evidence on Interventions to Improve Labour Market Outcomes of Youth

“Policymakers are seeking new ideas and

evidence on ways to improve the labour market

conditions of young people.”

Jonathan Stöterau is an economist at the Berlin Office of RWI

(Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung), a leading centre for economic research and evidence-based policy advice in Germany. Prior to joining RWI, Jonathan has worked as a consultant for several international development agencies and think tanks, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ); the Hertie School of Governance; the World Bank; and the International Labor Organization (ILO). His research focuses on the effectiveness of youth employment programmes and methods of counterfactual impact evaluation for development interventions.


When given the opportunity to save through formal financial services, will youth participate? And if they do, will this impact on youth developmental outcomes, household finances and overall well-being? These are fundamental questions being asked by YouthSave, a four-country study targeting young people between the ages of 12 to 18 years and living predominantly in low-income households.

YouthSave triangulates three research methods to create a rich, multi-dimensional approach for assessing how to create greater youth financial inclusion and positive youth development. The first research method is a randomised experiment with over 6,000 youth in Ghana. The experiment offers a unique test of whether access to a savings account, tailored to youth, leads to positive impacts on youth education, psychological well-being, health and financial capability.

The second research method is the savings demand assessment (SDA) in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal. This method is generating rich individual-level savings data to address questions regarding the take up of savings accounts and the patterns associated with savings in YouthSave accounts.

The third method - integrative case studies - uses in-depth interviews and document reviews. Its purpose is to shed light on saving experiences and perspectives of youth, in relation to policy context across Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal. Data gathered thus far confirms that bank branches providing alternate, off-site financial services, such as in-school banking, opened significantly more accounts when compared to counterparts that did not offer these services.

The data also confirms that branches providing alternate offsite financial services, such as in-school banking, opened significantly more accounts compared to their counterparts that did not. It also shows that younger youth tend to save more and withdraw less often than older youth.

While we await the experiment end-line data to answer questions about the effects of youth savings accounts fully, one major lesson is already clear. From the available data, we know that what matters in building youth financial inclusion and financial capability are contextual understanding, tailored products, services and adequate policies.

pRoF. DaviD ansong

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

asset theory & providing Financial access For Youth

Savings Patterns and Performance in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal: Early findings from the YouthSave Research Project

“Bank branches providing alternate, off-site

financial services opened significantly more

accounts when compared to counterparts that

did not offer these services.”

David Ansong is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Faculty Director in the area of Global Assets at the Center for Social Development (CSD). His areas of research expertise include economic and educational disparities, youth asset development, and international social development. He has been particularly involved in international research on asset development for low-income households and youth. He is currently helping to run the YouthSave Experiment in Ghana to test the impacts of youth savings accounts on the developmental outcomes — educational, psychological, health, and financial wellbeing — of youth. His current research examines the impacts of youth savings accounts on psychological wellbeing, in-school behaviour and academic performance.


Policymakers have embraced financial education as a necessary antidote to the increasing complexity of consumers’ financial decisions over the last generation. We conducted a meta-analysis of the effect of financial literacy and financial education on financial behaviours in 168 papers covering 201 prior studies. We found that interventions to improve financial literacy explain only 0.1% of the variance in financial behaviours studied, with weaker effects in low-income samples.

As with other types of education, financial education decays over time; even large interventions with many hours of instruction have negligible effects on behaviour 20 months or more from the time of intervention. However, correlational studies measuring financial literacy have also found stronger associations with financial behaviours. We then conducted three empirical studies and found that the partial effects of financial literacy diminish dramatically when one controls for psychological traits that have been omitted in prior research, or when one uses an instrument for financial literacy to control for omitted variables.

Financial education, as studied to date, has serious limitations that have been masked by apparently larger effects in correlational studies. We envisage a reduced role for financial education that is not elaborated or acted upon soon afterward. We suggest a real, but narrower role for ‘just in time’ financial education tied to the specific behaviours it intends to help. We conclude with a discussion on the characteristics of behaviours that might affect the policymaker’s mix of financial education, choice architecture and regulation as tools to help consumer financial behaviour.

pRoF. DaniEl FERnanDEs

Catholic University of Portugal, Portugal

a Critique of Financial Education

Financial Literacy, Financial Education and Downstream Financial Behaviours

“We find that interventions to improve

financial literacy explain only 0.1% of the

variance in financial behaviours studied.”

Daniel Fernandes serves as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Catholic University of Portugal. In 2010, Daniel was a visiting research scholar at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado-Boulder, and in 2013, he obtained a PhD in Marketing at Erasmus University. Daniel’s research interest centres on transformative consumer research and includes consumers’ memory, planning, financial literacy, decision-making, self-regulation and political ideology. In the financial domain, Daniel investigates the role of financial knowledge on financial decision-making, and the factors that explain this relationship. Outside of the financial domain, Daniel studies consumers’ memory and when reminders help consumers to complete their tasks.


The education sector has noted weaknesses in life-skills education and mismatches in the transition from education to civic and economic life. In addition, governments, the financial sector and civil society have highlighted the lack of financial capabilities among youth and adults. This lack negatively affects the individuals and families who are consequentially less capable of absorbing unexpected financial shocks and pursuing their goals.

This paper presents results from the first systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs to investigate the evidence regarding the effectiveness of financial life-skills education for children and youth. The review identified 21 studies and conducted meta-analyses on financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. Subgroup analyses are presented by population age (children, youth), intervention type (in-class, online, mass-media), and intervention intensity.

The identification of 21 studies refutes earlier claims that there are very few experimental studies of financial education. The findings challenge the relative importance placed on knowledge, attitude and behaviour outcomes — with some programmes having stronger effects on knowledge and others having stronger effects on behaviour or attitudes.

The relative strength of implementation models is explored through subgroup analysis, highlighting good practices, trade-offs and common pitfalls. Reflections will be shared on broader implications for education programmes providing life-skills relevant to society and the labour market. The next steps for research and practice are also discussed, with a focus on how the current evidence should be used to scale and test evidence-based models.

MR DaniEl D shEphaRD

Aflatoun, Child Savings International, The Netherlands

a Way Forward for Financial Education

Financial Life-Skills Education for Children and Youth: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

“Some programmes have stronger effects on

knowledge and others havie stronger effects on

behaviour or attitudes.”

Daniel Shephard is the Research and Curriculum Manager for Aflatoun’s social and financial education programmes that are being implemented in more than 100 countries with over 150 partner institutions. He has managed dozens of evaluations exploring personal, social and economic outcomes for children, youth and teachers in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. He also manages the development and revision of Aflatoun’s curricula for each life stage, including pre-school, primary school and youth. He holds an MSc in Evidenced-Based Social Intervention from the University of Oxford.


It might come in the form of a few euros handed over every Saturday morning. It may alternatively be given as a reward for doing chores at home or excelling in school exams. Whatever the form, pocket money is a very common part of growing up in Europe – and the ING International Survey special report shows it may have life-long benefits for savvy management of personal finances later in life.

The study found that those who received pocket money as a child exercise more control over their spending than those who didn’t – and are also less likely to become overdrawn. The study found that those who received pocket money as a child are also more likely to save money as an adult.

MR MaaRtEn DE Jongh

ING Bank, The Netherlands

ing international survey*

“Learning young: Does getting pocket money teach savings habits for life?”

“Those who received pocket money as a child

are more likely to save money as an adult.”

Maarten de Jongh has been working as Program Manager Community Investments at ING Sustainability since 2010. In this role, he has been responsible for ING’s International Community Investment activities,consisting of financial education and entrepreneurship programmes, a global partnership with UNICEF, and the ING Chances for Children programme. Before joining ING, Maarten worked in the area of CSR and cross-sector partnerships for several international development organisations, such as Plan International and UNICEF.

*The ING International Survey aims to gain a better understanding of how retail customers – and potential customers – of ING Bank around the globe spend, save, invest and feel about money. It is conducted several times a year, with past reports online at


Aflatoun is a worldwide movement based on a social franchise model, and its secretariat is located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The vision of Aflatoun is to see socially and economically empowered children and youth acting as agents of change in their own lives for a more equitable world. To this end, Aflatoun promotes the integration of social and financial education for children and youth into formal and informal school curricula. This is done through relevant, holistic and child-centred educational materials for the ages of 3 to 18, along with technical support for contextualisation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and scale-up. Today, Aflatoun is active in over 100 countries, working with more than 150 partner organisations. The Aflatoun network includes civil society and governmental partners who deliver the programme; financial institutions and foundations who provide support; and academic and other institutions that collaborate on research projects. Aflatoun has been recognised as a model for scaling social interventions and quality social and financial education by Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, UNICEF, and a growing number of Ministries of Education.

what is aFlatoun,


Children have a right to education. They have a right to an education that prepares them for the future: a future of social relations, civic engagement and management of resources. Aflatoun works to ensure that children have access to high quality social and financial education that equips them for their future.

Aflatoun’s social and financial education programme is one of the world’s most well-researched international life-skills programmes. Research has included:

- Six complete or ongoing randomised controlled trials in six different countries.

- A systematic review and meta-analysis of all financial education for children and youth.

- More than 20 research projects investigating the outcomes of the children’s curriculum.

- More than 10 projects evaluating the effectiveness of the youth programme.

The map below illustrates the regions where Aflatoun has completed or still has ongoing research. Blue countries have completed research, green have completed or are completing RCTs, and orange countries are those where research is ongoing.

Our social and financial education curriculum is built on the principle that a person’s personal, social and economic lives are interconnected. Therefore, these areas should be taught in a holistic manner to best empower children to pursue their goals. As a result, the curriculum has five core components:

1. Personal Understanding and Exploration 2. Rights and Responsibility

3. Saving and Spending 4. Planning and Budgeting 5. Social and Financial Enterprise

The findings on Aflatoun’s effectiveness are presented on the following pages. The outcomes are grouped into Social Outcomes, Financial Outcomes and Conclusions.

aFlatoun soCial


soCial outComes

The Aflatoun programme has demonstrated its ability to empower children and young people. Not only does it give children and youth self-confidence, it also instill a knowledge of personal rights, as well as respect for the rights of others. In eight studies measuring the self-confidence of primary school children, 60% of the children showed increased self-confidence by the end of Aflatoun’s programme. A rigorous randomised controlled trial (RCT) in Tajikistan, confirmed this outcome for an all-girls programme. By the end of the programme, participants demonstrated having higher self-agency than the control group. The rigour of this latter study removes the chance that this finding is caused by anything other than the programme. Five studies with primary school aged children found 99% of children participating in Aflatoun, ended the programme with positive, rights-based attitudes and knowledge. More rigorous evaluations include an RCT in Ghana with over 5,000 children. It found that the addition of rights-oriented social education, protected children from engaging in child labour. This was in part due to the inclusion of lessons on the dangers of child labour and children’s rights to be in school and not to have to work.

FinanCial outComes

Aflatoun recently worked with an external academic to produce the first systematic review of the effectiveness of financial education for children and youth. This research reviewed all existing rigorous research on the topic globally, looked at the total impact of the financial education interventions, and explored differences among the programmes.

Among all the studies identified, Aflatoun was the only programme to have been rigourously tested in more than one country. It was also found to be the most effective programme in changing children’s financial behaviour patterns around saving for their future. The impact on children’s savings behaviour for Aflatoun participants, was more than twice as high as the other programmes combined.

The programme has also shown a positive impact on children’s financial attitudes. Positive changes in children’s financial attitudes have been found in high-quality RCTs in Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda and Tajikistan. These four studies alone included more than 10,000 children.

Non-experimental evidence confirms the power of the combination of social and financial education in changing children’s and young people’s competencies.

Eight non-experimental studies evaluated the impact of

Aflatoun’s primary school programme on financial behaviour, and four studies looked into attitudinal change. Sixty-eight percent of children engaged in savings by the end of the programme. This is double the percentage of adults saving globally in the World Bank’s 2011 Financial Index Survey. This change in behaviour was driven in part by the positive attitudes towards savings that were also identified by the end of the programme. Ninety-one percent of children held positive attitudes towards savings after participating in social and financial education.

0.18 0.16 0.14 0.12 0.1 0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Non Aflatoun Adults


bEhaviouR ChangE


pERCEntagE saving


aflatoun aflatoun Children


Aflatoun is a global leader in researching the effectiveness of financial education for children and young people. A key strength of the Aflatoun programme is its focus on behaviour change and learning through action at an early age, when children’s habits are forming. This early age focus is in line with other research on early interventions, including the recent work of Nobel Prize - winning economist, James Heckman. Building financial capability in children should be done carefully and with a holistic look at their developmental needs. This is why the combination of social and financial education is key to Aflatoun’s mission and the success of its programme. Financial attitudes and behaviours are not cultivated in isolation, but are connected to children’s personal and social lives. A balanced curriculum can protect children from sacrificing their social and personal development for the sake of finances. This balance helps create sustainable change in young people’s behaviour by linking financial habits to children’s hopes and dreams, both for themselves and society. More details on Aflatoun’s research investigating teacher training, impacts on children and youth, and implementation issues can be found at






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