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Understanding the Pathways to Financial Well-Being

Jessica Thornton Walker, Debbie Gruenstein Bocian, Donna DeMarco, Brian Freeman, Abt Global, with Dee Warmath, University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security


July 17, 2018

The National Financial Well-Being Survey Report is the second report in a series from the Understanding the Pathways to Financial Well-Being project. 

In order to measure and study the factors that support consumer financial well-being, in 2015, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (the Bureau) contracted with Abt Global to field a large, national survey to collect information on the financial well-being of U.S. adults. The present report uses data collected from that survey to answer a series of questions on the relationship among financial well-being and four key factors: objective financial situation, financial behavior, financial skill, and financial knowledge. In this study, we aim to enhance understanding of financial well-being and the factors that may support it by exploring these relationships.

Key Findings Include:

  • An individual’s objective financial situation, as measured by key indicators such as financial resources or ability to make ends meet, is strongly correlated with his/her own perceived financial well-being.
  • Financial behavior is associated with financial well-being indirectly through its relation with objective financial situation.
  • Financial skill—that is, the ability to find, process, and use financial knowledge—appears to be more closely related to financial behavior than having factual financial knowledge.