Education and Financial Well Being for Native Americans

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



general population, financial status and behavior, race and ethnicity, life event barriers, financial education, education


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) defines financial well-being (FWB) as “having financial security and financial freedom of choice, in the present and in the future.” This study is the first to characterize FWB among American Indian and Alaska Native (referred to as AI/AN or Native individuals) individuals in the U.S., examining both the overall average level as well as the distribution. It further explores the relationship between FWB, education and financial capability.

Data for this study come from the nationally representative Understanding America Survey (UAS), which contains an oversample of AI/AN individuals. Regression analysis controlling for demographic characteristics (age, gender, and immigrant status) provides the associations between education, financial capability, and FWB for various racial and ethnic groups.

The study contains the following findings:

  • Although higher levels of education are associated with higher financial well-being, the additional financial well-being associated with college is lower for Native individuals than for other major racial or ethnic groups.
  • Significant gaps in FWB by education level between Native and non-Native individuals remain even after controlling for income.
  • Although financial literacy and numeracy are associated with higher FWB, this does not explain the lower FWB of AI/AN individuals across education groups.

The findings imply that further investigation of barriers to asset accumulation may therefore be key to raising FWB for the AI/AN population.