PISA 2012: New Zealand financial literacy report

Publication Details

The results of PISA 2012 were released internationally in December 2013, and New Zealand students’ achievement declined in all three domains of the study – mathematics, reading and science.

The OECD international release of financial literacy results is scheduled for the 9th July 2014. To coincide with this release, the Ministry has undertaken an in-depth analysis of financial literacy in New Zealand.

This report looks at New Zealand achievement in an international context, the relationship between financial literacy and student background such as gender, ethnicity, immigrant status, language spoken at home, and economic, social and cultural status, as well as students’ own experience with money.

Author(s): Lynne Whitney, Steve May and Michelle Lamy, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: July 2014


Key findings

  • New Zealand’s average in financial literacy (520 points) is above the average score for the 13 OECD countries taking part (500 points).
  • New Zealand had a large proportion of students (19%) with advanced skills and knowledge in financial literacy compared to the OECD average (10%).
  • Most New Zealand students (approximately 90 percent) had a bank account, a proportion higher than most participating countries. The difference in achievement in financial literacy between students who held a bank account (543 points) compared to those who did not (437 points) was the largest among all participating countries.
  • Relative to students in other participating countries, New Zealand students did better in the money and transactions content area than in planning and managing, risk and reward, and financial landscape.
  • In New Zealand performance in financial literacy is strongly related to a students’ scores in maths (correlation of 0.85), and reading (correlation of 0.8).
  • No gender differences in average score were found in New Zealand, although a greater number of boys demonstrated advanced financial literacy skills and knowledge than girls, and more boys demonstrated basic financial literacy skills and knowledge than girls.
  • In PISA a student’s socio-economic background is derived from information supplied by students about their parents’ level of education, occupation and possessions in the home.  It is summarised in the PISA index of Economic, Social and Cultural Status (ESCS). The relationship between student socio-economic background and financial literacy performance in New Zealand is the strongest among participating countries. Students in the bottom quarter of the ESCS index (students who are relatively socio-economically disadvantaged) score 459 points compared to 585 points in the top quarter of the index (students who are relatively socio-economically advantaged).
  • Māori students (466 points) and Pasifika students (424 points) achieved lower financial literacy scores than the average for New Zealand (520).
  • Students with an immigrant background (504 points) achieved lower financial literacy scores than students who did not have an immigrant background (533 points), and students who spoke a language other than English at home (474 points) achieved lower financial literacy scores than students who did speak English at home (535 points).

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