The 2020 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index: Many Do Not Know What They Do and Do Not Know

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



financial status and behavior, general population


The 2020 TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index), part of a long-term study to gauge U.S. adults’ financial literacy, is unique in its capacity to produce a robust measure of overall personal finance knowledge plus a nuanced analysis of financial literacy across eight functional areas. The 2020 wave of the study contains several new questions, for example, individuals were asked to evaluate their financial knowledge and they were asked about the amount of time they spend dealing with financial issues while at work.

Key Insights

  • U.S. adults, on average, correctly answered 52% of the P-Fin Index questions.
  • Correct responses have risen by 1 percentage point each year since the inaugural survey in 2017, resulting in a statistically significant increase over this period.
  • Financial knowledge is lowest in the area of comprehending risk and highest in borrowing and debt management.
  • Individuals with greater financial literacy spend less time at work contemplating money management problems.
  • Financial literacy is notably lower among Gen Z compared with older generations.