We document that immigrants in the United States differ from natives in several aspects relevant for their financial decision making. Based on these differences, we designed novel financial education materials targeted at US immigrants and their children and evaluated their effectiveness using a randomized control trial. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first rigorous evaluation of financial education programs targeted at this population. Compared to a control group, the groups that received the one-time educational intervention were more likely to correctly answer financial knowledge questions immediately after the intervention. The estimated effects of this one-time intervention on knowledge were large, but most of them faded away after six months. Moreover, we find little effect of the treatments on intended financial behavior measures, both immediately and six months later. Our results point to the efficacy of this type of educational material in informing immigrants and their children about important financial information that they are unfamiliar with, including information related to their immigrant status. However, they also suggest that a priority for future research should be to test whether repeated opportunities for learning can increase financial knowledge retention and lead to behavior change.
The full study is in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.