Theses Doctoral

Who needs and who wants financial education? A study of the characteristics of Mexican immigrants participating in a financial education program in New York City.

Franco, Adrian

This dissertation explores the characteristics of first generation underserved Mexican immigrants participating in a community-based financial education program in New York City. According to the literature, this group is less likely than other ethnic groups in the United States to have a bank account and understand and utilize other financial services from the financial mainstream. This condition hinders its opportunities for financial stability and socioeconomic development. Using a mixed method study, this dissertation aims to respond who among the population of first generation underserved Mexican immigrants living in New York City decides to attend a voluntary community-based financial education program. This dissertation finds that there are demographic and socioeconomic characteristics that differentiate those participating in the financial education program from the population, and that these participants might not be the ones who need the program the most according to the literature. The results show that these participants are more likely to have a bank account and use other financial services before they start the program. They also possessed basic understanding of financial concepts and the financial system and decided to enroll in the program because they wanted assistance to better utilize the financial services they already have access to. This self-selection problem is consistent with recent research on the subject conducted with other populations. The analysis also shows that the community-based financial education program was successful in teaching lessons about budgeting. This dissertation does not find conclusive evidence that the financial education program led participants to take action to improve their participation in mainstream financial institutions. The data collected also show that the migration status and level of financial literacy differentiate those participating in the mainstream financial system from those who are not. This dissertation adds to the current scholarly discussion on the effectiveness of financial education programs and factors associated with financial literacy and participation in the mainstream financial institutions. Its findings have implications for financial educators, researchers and Mexican immigrants. It offers a series of recommendations for the development and assessment of financial education programs for Mexican immigrants in New York City and other underserved migrant communities. The study concludes that the majority of Mexican immigrants in New York City urgently need financial education, but a self-selected group that might not need it the most, is the one attending community-based programs on this subject. Therefore, financial education programs need to reach out to those that need the program the most and adjust their curricula to serve better those who are participating.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Comparative and International Education
Thesis Advisors
Rivera-Batiz, Francisco
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2013