Articles & Special Issues Financial Capability

Financial Capability and Economic Security Among Low-Income Older Asian Immigrants: Lessons from Qualitative Interviews

This article examines financial capability among low-income older Asian immigrants, using data from in-depth interviews with 13 participants in a subsidized employment program in Los Angeles. Overall, respondents present a portrait of economic insecurity. Qualitative analyses indicate that respondents perceived little need to improve their financial knowledge and management skills because they had “no money to manage.” Most respondents lacked either financial knowledge or financial management skills, which resulted in substantial financial losses among some respondents. Mistrust of financial institutions (“Banks are always vampires”) and other financial barriers (for example, lack of credit history) blocked respondents’ access to formal financial services. In some cases, ethnic financial resources (for example, ethnic banks) reduced the effects of such barriers. There is evidence that respondent financial knowledge and management skills may improve after opening a bank account, suggesting a potential role for financial access in expanding financial capability. Findings demonstrate the importance of financial capability–building interventions for low-income older Asian immigrants. Social workers should be equipped with financial literacy and in-depth understanding of financial needs, perceptions, values, behaviors, and resources of this population.

Project: Financial Capability & Asset Building


Nam, Y., Sherraden, M. S., Huang, J., Lee, E. J., & Keovisai, M. (2019). Financial capability and economic security among low-income older Asian immigrants: Lessons from qualitative interviews. Social Work, 64(3), 224–232. doi:10.1093/sw/swz015