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Working Papers

April 2022, No. 22-03

Is It Still an Econ Course? The Effect of a Standardized Personal Finance Test on the Learning of Economics

Stephen Day, Evelyn Nunes and Bruno Sultanum

We study the implications of mixing economics and personal finance standards in a high school course. Using administrative, survey, and testing data on college students, we find evidence that personal finance instruction crowds out economics instruction. We find that students who received more instruction in economics score almost 5% higher on an economics test. Furthermore, we estimate the effect of being assigned a certification test in personal finance as a part of this course. The effect of the certification test is not uniform across students. The test reduces the economics scores of students with an SAT score one standard deviation above the mean by 5 percentage points, but increases the scores of students with SAT scores one standard deviation below the mean by 10 percentage points. Our results emphasize the potentially idiosyncratic effects of mixing economics with personal finance.


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