Print version ISSN 0325-8203
DENEGRI CORIA, Marianela; MARTINEZ TORO, Gustavo and ETCHEBARNE LOPEZ, Soledad. The understanding of the banking operation in Chilean adolescents: A study of Economic Psychology. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2007, vol.24, n.2, pp. 137-159. ISSN 0325-8203.
The understanding of the world of money and the mechanisms of credit and saving constitute prerequirements indispensable for the development of rational economic behaviours and to avoid excessive levels of indebtedness, this problem moreover being considered urgent in expanding economies. In this frame it is crucial that the adolescents acquire an economic and financial literacy that prepares them for their insertion in the world of work and economic decision making. Economic literacy refers to the acquisition, done by children, adolescents and adults, of knowledge, beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours related to the use of money, the consumption of goods and services, and the performance in the daily economic world. Economic literacy requires a personal financial literacy defined as the ability to read, to analyze, to understand, to handle and to communicate personal financial situations that affect personal finances and the capacity to make financial decisions considering the variables existing in the economic context. The intention of this research, developed from an Economic Psychology approach, was to describe the development process of the understanding of banking operation in Chilean adolescents. Participants were 159 teenagers enrolled in school with an age range from 14 to 18 years old, balanced by sex and belonging to socioeconomic high, average and low levels, which were divided in two subsamples according to if they were residents of multifinancial cities or financially limited functioning cities. As the data collection instrument, a piagetian clinical interview was used to interrogate the young people about the functions of a bank, the form to accede to credits, savings and the relation between interest rates, credit and saving. The results indicate greater levels of understanding in subjects belonging to average and high socioeconomic levels and residents of multifinancial cities, and a poor understanding in the young people of low socioeconomic level who reside in cities with a limited financial system. Both the qualitative and quantitative analysis of information, indicate that there is a general agreement between the present results and those obtained in previous studies with adolescents in other cultural contexts. One can observe that although an important percentage of subjects have a suitable general understanding of the rules of banking operation, there still is an important number of adolescents who do not obtain this understanding or obtain it only partially. Even in advanced understanding subjects, there is a persistence of difficulties in the ability to relate the action and impact of diverse economic variables (for example, interest rates, internal economic situation of the country, inflation and global economic context variables), which denotes, on the one hand, an insufficient baggage of specific economic knowledge and on the other, the difficulty to think about systems. It is important to consider the influence of the social, cultural and economic context in the comprehension of the function of the bank as a financial intermediary and in the development of consumer behavior. The lack of economic literacy found in the sample indicates the urgent task of preparing our young people for the comprehension of and efficient performance in the economic world, providing them with the information and strategies necessary for decision making as consumers and plaintiffs of financial resources, as a way of contributing to a fairer society and an equitable development. For this purpose, the incorporation of general economic literacy and specifically a suitable financial literacy in the formal education is very relevant.
Keywords : Economic literacy; Financial literacy; Understanding of banking operation; Adolescent.