The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index)

The TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) measures knowledge and understanding that enable sound financial decision making and effective management of personal finances among U.S. adults. The P-Fin Index is an annual survey developed by the TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, in consultation with Greenwald & Associates. It is unique in its breadth of questions and its coverage of the topics that measure financial literacy. The index is based on responses to 28 questions across eight functional areas: earning, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing/managing debt, insuring, comprehending risk, and go-to information sources.


New insights for improving financial well-being

Highlights from the 2024 P-Fin Index

  • Financial literacy among women has consistently lagged that of men. There is a 10-point gender gap in the percentage of index questions correctly answered in 2024.
  • Financial literacy levels among Asian and White Americans are roughly equal. Likewise, financial literacy levels among Black and Hispanic Americans are roughly equal, albeit at lower levels.
  • Financial literacy tends to be low across generations, but particularly so among Generation Z—on average, Gen Z correctly answered only 37% of the index questions in 2024.
  • Functional knowledge is substantially lower among Gen Z compared with Generation Y, Generation X, and baby boomers in all eight areas examined. Comprehending risk is the area with the least generational variation in functional knowledge; even older adults with more experience in financial decision-making score low on risk-related questions.
  • Analogous to overall financial literacy, functional knowledge levels among women tend to lag those of men, and the gap is statistically significant across all functional areas.
  • Compared with those with a very high level of financial literacy, those with a very low level are twice as likely to be debt-constrained; three and one-half times more likely to be financially fragile; four times more likely to lack one month of emergency savings; three times more likely to be not at all confident in their retirement income prospects; and three times more likely to spend 10-plus hours per week on personal finance issues.
  • Twenty-six percent of those who correctly answered 4 or 5 of the retirement fluency questions are very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement, while only 7% are not at all confident. These figures are essentially flipped among those who didn’t correctly answer any of the questions (29% and 10%, respectively).

The consistently low levels of financial literacy among U.S. adults, particularly among the most vulnerable groups, is troubling. These findings are a call to action. It is high time to change the conversation about money, starting with adding financial education in school and college.

— Annamaria Lusardi

Information about the survey

The initial wave of the survey was fielded online in September 2016 to a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, ages 18 and older. Each year, the survey oversamples a particular demographic group to better understand the financial literacy levels and financial behaviors of that group. Because the P-Fin Index is an annual study, future waves will enable trend analysis of overall personal finance knowledge, as well as knowledge in the different functional areas and across demographic groups.

P-Fin Index Research