Researcher wants to better equip young people to manage their financial futures

Most Canadians are living beyond their means, with a debt-to-income ratio of 181 per cent. More than half are within $200 of not being able to cover their bills and loan payments.

These kinds of statistics make Faculty of Education professor Damien Cormier uneasy, which prompted him to launch a research project to boost financial literacy in young people.

Young adults are navigating a more complex financial landscape than previous generations, said Cormier, a registered psychologist who teaches in the University of Alberta’s Department of Educational Psychology

“The financial products available to them are complicated, there are fewer defined pensions, the cost of living continues to rise and wages have stagnated, so it makes sense for this group to be more prepared for these challenges without having to learn by trial and error.”

Taking stock of financial literacy

The research project, launched a year ago under the umbrella of the U of A’s Centre for Research in Applied Measurement and Evaluation, mainly helps establish a strong measure of financial literacy that can then be used to develop school curriculum or reference materials for consumer affairs agencies, said Cormier. 

While there is an existing curriculum in some schools, he’d like to see financial literacy taught “more consistently across the board and to be more targeted by fleshing out what we want young people to achieve and how teachers can deliver that content.”

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