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Development of a financial literacy model for university students

Ani Caroline Grigion Potrich (Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil)
Kelmara Mendes Vieira (Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil)
Wesley Mendes-Da-Silva (Department of Finance Accounting and Controllership, Fundação Getulio Vargas at São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 21 March 2016




The purpose of this paper is to build and compare models that assess university students’ financial literacy. Financial literacy, understood as the mastery of a set of knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, has assumed a fundamental role in allowing and enabling people to make responsible decisions as they strive to attain financial wellbeing. To this end, models that integrate financial knowledge, behavior and attitude are integrated. The models are subsequently estimated, and many comparative tests are performed.


The study investigated a random sample of 534 university students attending public and private universities in southern Brazil. The choice of scale was based on consideration of the best adjustment for the Brazilian context, appropriate translation and content validation. For an analysis of the collected data, structural equation modeling was employed using two strategies.


The findings indicate that, in the model estimation stage, the scales for behavior and attitude have been reduced. Among all of the models estimated, the best adjusted model indicates that financial knowledge and financial attitude have positive impacts on financial behavior.

Research limitations/implications

The results are not generalizable to the wider population; to enable such generalization, different profiles should be researched using a larger sample. In practical terms, the financial behavior of Brazilian university students expresses the ability to establish long-term aims and saving aimed at future acquisitions and unexpected spending. This behavior is directly influenced by basic and advanced questions of financial knowledge and also by the importance attributed to attitude by establishing aims, control of spending and financial reserves.


This paper describes a pioneer study with respect to modeling financial literacy in Brazil. This topic can be improved as the need for rigorous evaluation of financial literacy grows at the same speed as the creation of more complex financial products.



The authors are grateful to the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for financial support.


Potrich, A.C.G., Vieira, K.M. and Mendes-Da-Silva, W. (2016), "Development of a financial literacy model for university students", Management Research Review, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 356-376.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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