Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Economic Socialization, Saving, and Assets in European Young Adults

Two studies were carried out, using data on the assets, economic socialization and dispositions of European teenagers and young adults. The sample of young adults (18–32) was drawn from a panel survey of the Dutch population. The Dutch sample size was 392, a significant proportion (over 25%) of whom were still living in the parental home. The sample of teenagers (mean age 14.4 years) and their parents was drawn from a three-generation study of economic socialization in Norway. The Norwegian sample size was 548 adolescents, 256 mothers, and 227 fathers. The Dutch study identified four distinct strands of economic socialization: providing pocket money, doing jobs at home, doing work for others, and parental encouragement and advice. The results showed that parental encouragement (being taught budgeting and encouraged to save) had an impact on the economic orientation of young adults; those who had encouragement were better able to control spending, had a preference to save over spending, had an orientation to the future, were more conscientious and saved more. Those children who worked as adolescents were less likely to plan to save the following year and more likely to be in debt. The Norwegian study found evidence that suggests there is a difference, though not a substantial one, in the economic socialization experience of adolescents who come from poorer and less educated backgrounds: they were less likely to receive pocket money and have part-time work but were introduced to piggy banks and savings accounts at a younger age.

The paper was presented during the Assets and Education Symposium, a March 2012 conference cosponsored by the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare and CSD. The symposium was convened to explore the role of savings and asset holding in post-secondary educational achievement. Many of the original conference papers are accessible in the center’s online collection and were subsequently developed for publication in Assets and Educational Attainment: Theory and Evidence, a special issue of Economics of Education Review.

Subsequent publication: Webley, P., & Nyhus, E. K. (2013). Economic socialization, saving and assets in European young adults. Economics of Education Review, 33, 19–30. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.09.001

Project: College Success


Webley, P., & Nyhus, E. (2012). Economic socialization, saving, and assets in European young adults (CSD Working Paper No. 12-01). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.