The financial culture of the French? On average

What is the rate for Book A? Question asked for the majority of French people, who are only 31% to know the correct answer, 0.50%, according to the 2021 study on the financial culture of the general public of the Banque de France, published on 13 December. While inflation dictates, this rate is expected to rise slightly in February, with respondents tending to underestimate the current pay of this tax-free booklet, with almost one in three thinking it is only 0.25%.

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At the end of this survey, conducted by the CSA institute (which is based on a sample of the French adult population of 2,150 people, with 2,000 online interviews and 150 by telephone), the average French, given a score of financial literacy of 13 out of 21. This is precisely the average of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), at least in the other eleven countries where such a survey has also been carried out (Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Estonia, Portugal, Poland). , South Korea, Czech Republic, Hungary, Colombia, Italy). At the top of the twelve is Slovenia (with a score of 14.7 out of 21), with Italy in the back (11.1 out of 21).

This study is international in scope, based on a questionnaire designed by the OECD. Since the beginning of the 2000s, this organization has been dealing with the issue of financial education, encouraging member countries to establish national strategies to improve the financial culture of citizens, comparing the different measures implemented by working, and measuring the levels. of the knowledge of the populations.

In France, the national strategy was launched in 2016 by Bercy and the Banque de France is the “operator”.

Great room for improvement

“Since I arrived [à ce poste], I hear people say: the French are hurting their finances. No, we are not zero, we are average “says Stéphanie Lange-Gaumand, head of the Banque de France’s economic, budgetary and financial education department for the past year.

This overall score of 13 out of 21 includes, in detail, three sub-scores: one for financial knowledge (the French got a 4.6 out of 7), one for attitude towards money (position – 3 out of 5), one for behaviors (specific actions – 5.4 out of 9).

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The Bank of France welcomes this behavior “looks thoughtful”with “83% pay their bills on time” and 71% who “look closely” their financial situation. “We are rather applied but we build few long-term financial strategies, it is very marked among the French”tempera Mjo Lange Gaumand.

Based on theoretical knowledge, at a time when inflation has risen, respondents seem to be well aware of its impact on the cost of living, but do not fully understand its consequences for their savings. They were asked what they could buy in a year with 1,000 euros and an annual inflation of 2%, compared to today: 27% believe that these 1,000 euros will then allow them to buy more or less and 17% do not. to know.

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Another weakness: the famous compound interest (the fact that the interest received in turn produces interest) – a key concept for understanding the role of time in investments. You deposit 100 euros in a savings account with a return of 2% per year, how much do you have after five years? Only 42% answer “more than 110 euros”.

A large proportion of respondents also do not master the mechanism of revolving credit (only 50% know that it is a loan that is automatically reconstituted over the monthly payments), but they know much better (70%) the definition of agios ( interest received). by the bank when an account is overdrawn).

Less doubt between the ages of 18-35

In matters of financial knowledge, women give the right answers less often than men. They are, for example, 27% to know the rate of Booklet A compared to 35% of men, and 33% to correctly answer the question about capitalized interest compared to 52% of men. Nor are they at all confident about the issue: only 15% believe they have a high level of knowledge of financial matters (28% of men are).

Younger people are also more likely to give incorrect answers. For example, only 35% of young people aged 18 to 24 and 40% of those aged 25 to 34 understand the impact of inflation on savings. This does not prevent young people between the ages of 18 and 34 from having self-confidence: 35% (compared to 21% of the general population) consider their financial knowledge to be high.

In addition, young people are much more attracted than others to cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin: 44% of 18-24 year olds and 28% of 25-34 year olds think this is a good time to invest; 2018 (it was 29% and 25%, respectively), with an average rate for all ages of 17%.


This is, according to the Banque de France, the number of fourth-grade classes to experiment with, during the 2021-2022 school year, with the “Educfi passport”, in the thirty or so national education academies. The previous year there were 74 classes in five academies. Initiated as part of the national financial education strategy, this passport is aimed at getting students to know the basics of personal finance and should be generalized in the coming years. According to the 2021 survey on the financial culture of the general public, 80% of French people think that financial and budget education should be taught in school. 21% from primary school, 38% from university, 21% from high school.

In addition, they are among those most interested in financial news and financial issues (49% of 18-24 year olds, 45% of 25-34 year olds, compared to 42% of the general population); only those over 65 do so well at this point (49%).

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Finally, the study sees potential “effect of the health crisis” : Respondents appear to have, it is claimed, “a calmer approach to money” that in 2018. They are 42% who say they are satisfied with their current financial situation (+7 points), and 49% who declare that they have money left at the end of the month (+7 points).

The rate of respondents who fear not having enough money in the long run drops from 45% to 39% from one study to another, and the rate of respondents who indicate that they have had difficulty reaching the end of the month in the last twelve months from 47% to 39%

Entrepreneurs have a “rather solid” financial culture.

For the first time, the Bank of France also analyzed the financial culture of entrepreneurs, questioning 1,002, in companies with less than 50 employees, again based on a questionnaire from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As a result, their average score is higher than that of the general public, 12 out of 17 (hence, almost 15 out of 21).

“Its financial culture is quite solid”deciphers Stéphanie Lange-Gaumand of the Banque de France, “even if there are ways to improve”. Only 47% know that when a company obtains capital from an investor, it becomes a co-owner. To support entrepreneurs in financial and budgetary matters, an official website, Mes questions d’entrepreneur, was launched online at the end of 2019.

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