Government leaders around the world are designing national strategies to improve financial inclusion for populations traditionally excluded from the financial markets. Financial literacy is a key tool being used to bring economically vulnerable populations into the financial mainstream. Data from the 2013 China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) were used to investigate the impacts of various dimensions of financial literacy on the usage of bank and non-bank loans among rural, illiterate, and migrant populations in the People's Republic of China. The findings show that the most vulnerable groups may be less likely to benefit from financial literacy, especially when it comes to usage of formal bank loans. Other factors such as those related to social networks and infrastructure may matter more than financial literacy. Results were found to vary across measures of financial literacy and financial inclusion. The findings suggest that barriers to access likely need to be overcome so that financial literacy can be more effective. The current study provides important insights for policy makers and international organizations designing national strategies to improve financial inclusion via financial literacy, especially for populations that have been traditionally excluded. Researchers are encouraged to reexamine previous definitions and measures of financial literacy and inclusion to develop a better understanding of the relationship between the two dimensions.
financial literacy financial inclusion loan usage financially vulnerable populations People's Republic of China