Financial Education


Unit Director: Francesco Saita

The Financial Education Unit has developed education and research projects aimed at improving individuals’ abilities and competencies in the areas of financial knowledge, financial and pension planning, insurance planning and risk management. Its activity has been supported through research/education projects financed by external sponsors and through foundation grants.

The overall aim of the unit is (a) to develop educational projects aimed at raising the level of financial education and (b) to investigate the effectiveness of financial education programs in a rigorous way, contributing to the policy and academic debate. The attention in scientifically measuring the results of education efforts is seen by the Financial Education Research Unit as a crucial contribution to improve financial education itself and to understand better how to address also individuals that need it most having a lower initial level of competencies.

Current projects

Pension financial planning education in the workplace (financed by Comitato per programmazione e il coordinamento delle attività di educazione finanziaria/Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze)

The project aims at testing the effectiveness of an educational program clarifying the potential advantages of enrolling into pension funds for workers, by delivering an educational video in a physical meeting on the workplace. A number of Italian firms have been involved and couples of similar firms/locations serving as part of either the treated and or the control sample have been identified. The project timeline has had to be revised substantially due to the Covid 19 emergency, but it should hopefully be completed by the end of 2021.

The project is directed by Francesco Saita and involves both the Financial Education Research Unit of Baffi Carefin and Assofondipensione, the Italian association of industry pension funds (that involves representatives of both employers’ associations and trade unions)

Past projects and publications

Cooperation and research project with CONSOB’s Research Division for the 2018 Report on Financial Investments of Italian Households

In 2018, Francesco Billari, Carlo Favero and Francesco Saita have cooperated with the Research Division of Consob to develop a section of the 2018 Report on Financial Investments of Italian Households aimed at understanding the drivers of the intention of individuals to become more financially literate. Subsequent work on the data from the survey has led to the publication of a Quaderno di Ricerca CONSOB (F. Billari, M. Gentile, N. Linciano, F. Saita, “Who Intends to Become Financially Literate? Insights from the Theory of Planned Behaviour”, November 2019)

The paper shows that the theory of planned behaviour has the potential to be used as a conceptual framework to understand why some individual show a weaker intention to learn about finance. This is important since the weakness of certain segments of the overall population can depend not only on the difficulty to get in contact with financial education opportunities (the “supply” of financial education) but on the lack of a demand of financial education on their side. We claim that greater attention to the demand side and to the levers that can improve the willingness to learn should be important from a policy perspective.

FINLIFE (Financial Education and Planning for a Long Life) (supported by two grants of Citi Foundations, New York)

The project aimed at obtaining a significant improvement in the financial planning capability of factory workers in the engineering industry, and has been developed in collaboration with Cometa pension fund thanks to the financial support by Citi Foundation. The project has involved more than 1,300 clerks and factory workers enrolled in the industry-specific pension fund Cometa, through a financial education video aimed at conveying basic financial concepts and at stimulating a conscious decision as far as the choice of the investment line in the pension fund were concerned. Results have shown a statistically significant effect of the intervention on the frequency of change of the investment line in the 3 months after the video as opposed to a control sample, and a statistically significant improvement in correct answers for the majority of the topics tested through a questionnaire two weeks after the video.

The research team was composed by Francesco Saita and Carlo Favero (Bocconi University), Francesco Billari (Bocconi University, and previously Department of Sociology and Nuffield College, University of Oxford), with the support of Patrizia Contaldo (Insurance Market Observatory, Baffi Carefin, Bocconi University).

Results are available in the Baffi Carefin working paper “Nudging Financial and Demographic Literacy: Experimental Evidence from an Italian Pension Fund

The paper has also been accepted in the Research Paper Series of the Comitato per programmazione e il coordinamento delle attività di educazione finanziaria (the Italian Financial Education Committee, that involves among others four Italian ministries, Bank of Italy, Consob, Ivass and Covip).

FELIP (Financial Education and Life Planning) (supported by two grants of Citi Foundations, New York)

The FELIP (Financial Education and Life Planning) project was developed in high schools with the aim to improve the level of basic financial and demographic literacy of the population, and to scientifically test the effectiveness of education initiatives on the competencies and attitude towards planning. Also this project has been graciously supported by Citi Foundation New York in 2011 and 2012. The project has involved more than 1,200 fourth-year high school students in the North of Italy.

One particular feature of the project was the intention to test whether there could be differential effects in academic high schools (“licei”) as opposed to vocational schools (“scuole professionali”) by involving a balanced treated and control sample in both types of schools.

The research team was composed by Francesco Saita and Carlo Favero (Bocconi University), Francesco Billari (Bocconi University, and previously Department of Sociology and Nuffield College, University of Oxford), and Luca Pesando (McGill University and Centre on Population Dynamics).

Results of this project are forthcoming in the book chapter L.M. Pesando, F.C. Billari, C.A. Favero, F. Saita, “Financial and Demographic Education Effectiveness in Academic and Vocational High Schools: A Randomised Experiment”, in B. Alemanni, U. Filotto, R. Viale (eds.), Financial Education and Risk Literacy, Elgar.

Results show a statistically significant increase in demographic literacy for both academic and vocational schools. As for financial literacy, results have been significantly positive for academic schools and positive but not statistically significant for vocational schools. However, by disentangling students within classes by academic performance (average grade in Italian and mathematics) the effect on above median students of vocational students is statistically significant and similar in level to below median students of academic schools. The chapter also investigates the effects on attitudes, and points out on one hand that financial education experiments may be effective with at least a relevant portion of students from a potentially weaker milieu, that need it most, even if great care has to be given if one wants to avoid that precisely vulnerable groups may be left behind.

Cooperation with ANIA-Forum Consumatori on the project of insurance education “Io e i rischi”

The third main recent project has been in the field of insurance education and pension planning and has been jointly developed by the Financial Education Unit and by the Insurance Market Observatory within Baffi Carefin. The two units have cooperated with the project "Io e I rischi teens" developed by Fondazione ANIA-Forum Consumatori. The Baffi Carefin team has helped revising the teaching materials prepared for high school professors and has been involved in evaluating the effectiveness of the project. In a subsequent project for Fondazione ANIA-Forum Consumatori, the Baffi Carefin team has developed short videos on pension planning and basic insurance concepts aimed at high school students and professors. The team was composed by Patrizia Contaldo (Insurance Market Observatory, Baffi Carefin, Bocconi University) and Francesco Saita