Freakonomics fans will already know that financial literacy is a hot issue for researchers – it’s in everybody’s best interest to get people making better financial decisions, but frankly, we’re not terribly good at it. The natural response is that if you just explain to people how to make better decisions, they’ll do it, but as we’ve heard in the podcast, it ain’t necessarily so. Just taking rational, clear-thinking adults and explaining how to make better financial decisions makes them feel good, but doesn’t necessarily help them make better decisions.
So we wondered if we could fix the problem by backing up the process and starting early, when kids were still in school. And we decided to do it in a place where people can use all the financial help they can get – Ghana, which has one of the lowest savings rates in Africa.