When the National Financial Capability Study launched in 2009, it promised valuable new information about the financial situations of U.S. households following the Great Recession. The ongoing national surveys — every three years — have lived up to that expectation, revealing not only how people manage their finances but also whether they are capable of handling those responsibilities.
But the FINRA Investor Education Foundation sought an even deeper dive into what we know about consumer finances. In 2012, it provided funding to add the NFCS' questions to a representative sample of 2,000 individuals selected from the RAND American Life Panel, which includes more in-depth information about Americans' finances. That new data is examined in “Financial Capability of the American Adults: Insights from the American Life Panel,” a report I wrote in collaboration with Marco Angrisani and Arie Kapteyn from the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California. It includes a number of findings of interest for the pension and financial industry.