Social Welfare Issues Of Financial Literacy

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Executive Summary

In the matter of financial literacy it is often supposed that more is automatically preferable to less. This paper considers to what extent this may be true generally, and specifically focuses on the case of investment forecasting skill (a significant component of an individual's financial literacy). The authors show that the while improved forecasting skill can increase an individual's own utility, the resulting increase in trading volume leads to higher asset price volatility. Under the plausible assumption that this volatility imposes disutility on non-investors, an interesting trade-off is exposed between the benefits of skill improvement which accrue to investors, and the costs suffered more broadly by society.

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