Financial Literacy: Liberalism, Decision-Making and Social Welfare
By Gordon L. Clark (Oxford University – Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment)
Financial literacy is a program for enhancing individuals’ decision-making and an assumption made about the sovereignty of the individual. In its most optimistic form, financial literacy would empower individuals to achieve their financial goals and objectives. It would do so by providing individuals the concepts for effective decision-making in a world subject to financial risk and uncertainty. The logic underpinning this vision is explained arguing that John Stuart Mill’s ideal of an informed and educated citizen transmogrified into the early 21st-century is neither sufficient to sustain the average person’s economic well-being nor is it an adequate conception of how people actually make financial decisions. Nonetheless, the financial literacy movement has reopened a space for reconceptualising the responsibilities of the individual and the state in ways consistent with the experience of people in time and space.