*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This research project evaluates an intervention designed and implemented for survivors of intimate partner violence, an economically vulnerable population who are often victims of economic abuse and who, like low-income women in general, have limited access to and previous experience with financial resources. Using panel data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the curriculum, the paper examines the treatment effects of the curriculum on two outcomes: 1) a scale of financial literacy, which included questions about credit, investing and long-term planning, obtaining resources, and joint assets; and 2) a scale of financial behaviors, which included questions about savings practices, paying off debt, and making and following a budget. The sample (n=300) includes women from 13 agencies in seven U.S. states and Puerto Rico. After completing a baseline interview, participants were randomly assigned within each agency to a treatment group who received the curriculum or to a control group who did not. Posttest interviews were conducted after approximately 2 months, 8 months and 14 months.
Findings, based on repeated measures ANOVA and difference-in-differences models, indicate a strong effect of the curriculum on both knowledge and behavior. The difference-in-difference analyses produced consistent treatment outcome estimates, even when controlling for relevant covariates and average within-subjects time trends. The models indicate that the program participation increased a participant’s perceived knowledge by about one point on a 5-point financial literacy scale and increased a participant’s self-reported financial behaviors a little over a half of point on a 5.0-point financial behavior scale. Assuming a starting point of average, or a 3.0 on the scale, this change translates into a 33 percent improvement for financial literacy and a 20 percent improvement for financial behaviors. As one of the few RCTs of a financial literacy curriculum, the findings can inform state and federal policies and funding decisions on financial literacy programs.