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Australian students’ attitudes to money

29 June 2015

Differences in the extent to which boys’ and girls’ spending behaviour is influenced by external forces may challenge your preconceptions, as Sue Thomson explains.

Responses to an international survey of 15-year-olds reveal that Australian boys are significantly more likely than Australian girls to say that the main influence on their spending is the need to ‘fit in’.

The 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment’s supplementary Financial Literacy assessment measured students’ knowledge of personal finances and ability to apply it to financial problems, as well as their attitudes towards and experiences with money.

A total of 29 000 students from 18 countries and economies participated in the assessment, including approximately 3300 Australian students from 768 schools.

Around 79 per cent of Australian boys said that the need to ‘fit in’ was an influence on them spending money, compared to 70 per cent of Australian girls. Boys were also more likely than girls to say their spending was influenced by friends (39 per cent for boys compared with 34 per cent for girls), or advertising in magazines or newspapers (69 per cent for boys compared with 54 per cent for girls).

Boys and girls reported similar levels of influence on their spending by commercials on television and radio (73 per cent for boys compared with 70 per cent for girls) and by advertising on the internet (61 per cent for boys compared with 58 per cent for girls).

Encouragingly, almost all students (98 per cent of both girls and boys) agreed that knowing about money is important, and three-quarters of both boys and girls would like to learn more about money; however, boys were more likely than girls to report that they enjoy learning about money matters (68 per cent for boys compared with 56 per cent for girls) and that they know enough about money for their future life (72 per cent for boys compared with 62 per cent for girls).

This potential conflict between wanting to learn more and believing they already know enough may make educating young people about more complex financial issues difficult, particularly if those more complex issues do not have a direct bearing on their current, or at least near future, lives. ■

Read the full report:
Snapshots Issue 7, May 2015, ‘Australian students: Attitudes to money and finance’ by Sue Thomson. < >


About the author

Dr Sue Thomson is the Deputy CEO (Research) at ACER, as well as the Head of Educational Monitoring and Research, and the Director of ACER's Surveys and International Assessments research program. 

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