Financial Capability and Financial Literacy Among Working Women: New Insights

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



general population, financial status and behavior, gender, economic barriers, financial education, gender wealth gap


Analysis of the 2015 National Financial Capability Study provides new insight into the state of working women’s financial capability, including how it has changed over the past several years, as follows:

■ Small but significant improvements in working women’s financial capability occurred between 2012 and 2015.

■ In 2015, working women found it easier to make ends meet, carried credit card debt less often, used alternative financial services less often, and were less likely to engage in expensive credit card behaviors.

■While behaviors related to short-term assets and debt improved, there has been little headway in relation to long-term debt. In 2015, three-quarters of working women held at least one form of long-term debt and many stated that they have too much debt.

■ Student loan debt is a particular challenge for working women, as many are falling behind on payments and are concerned about their ability to pay off these loans.

■ Working women across all demographics are worried about running out of money in retirement. The majority do not plan for retirement.

■ Despite some improvement from 2012, working women significantly lag behind working men in terms of almost every aspect of financial capability examined.

■ Young working women, women with children, and women who experienced a marital disruption are more likely to demonstrate signs of financial distress.

■ In general, working women have very low financial literacy: less than one-third demonstrated basic financial literacy, a percentage significantly lower than that of working men.