Women in India are closing Gender Gap on Financial Literacy: MasterCard Survey

People in mature markets may prove to be better financial planners overall but it is women in emerging markets who remain dominant when it comes to basic money management, according to MasterCard research.

The MasterCard Worldwide Index of Financial Literacy is based on a survey conducted between 24 April 2012 and 10 June 2012 with 6904 respondents aged 18 – 64 in 14 Asia/Pacific countries. This is the 3rd survey of Financial Literacy conducted since 2010. The survey polled consumers on three aspects of financial literacy including their basic money management skills, investment knowledge and financial planning to determine the level of basic money management skills in terms of budgeting, savings, and responsibility of credit usage. The survey and its accompanying reports do not represent MasterCard financial performance. 

In terms of overall financial literacy, Taiwan and New Zealand tied for first place with a score of 73 index points each, with Taiwan jumping up from 5th rank in 2010. Following close behind with 71 index points each are Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. Notably, Hong Kong jumped up from 6th position when the survey was conducted in 2010. Thailand, first in the region two years ago, fell 10 rankings to 11th in 2012 with 65 index points. China and India were ranked the lowest in the basic money management index scoring 55 index points each. 

Women showed slightly better scores than men  in Asia/Pacific’s emerging markets with Philippines leading the region with financial literacy scores that were 9% better than men’s, followed by Vietnam (6%) and Malaysia (5%).

T.V. Seshadri, Division President, South Asia, said: “The index has provided fresh insights into the aptitude and knowledge of managing finances for women in India. It is encouraging to see that women are at par with men when it comes to financial literacy, but there is still a lot of work to be done to improve levels of financial literacy across the board. As an organization committed, MasterCard will continue to work towards raising levels of financial literacy in the region, enabling women to earn a livelihood and better the lives of their family and the community they live in.”

As part of its commitment to economic empowerment for individuals, MasterCard recently pledged INR 2,500,000 to the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), an organization that helps women in India secure employment opportunities, empowering them to self-reliance with supportive services. The financial aid helped fund the set-up of SEWA’s seventh Rural Urban Development Initiative (RUDI) Processing Centre at Bodeli, Gujarat. The centre will benefit approximately 2000 farmers and 400 SEWA members. Under this program supported by MasterCard, SEWA members will provide necessary training to empower the centre’s workforce with necessary skill sets as per the needs and demands of the market. As more women are trained to run the centre, they will become entrepreneurs, retailing in the neighboring areas, thereby sustaining the business activities of the centre. 

MasterCard recently also tied up with Literacy India to help 705 women from 16 centers to upgrade their skills in modern design and advanced finishing techniques. This works to support and encourage women to transform themselves into entrepreneurs and increase their earning power. 

The overall results of the survey for Asia Pacific also provided some interesting highlights. New Zealanders (77%) fared the best when asked about basic money management skills such as day-to-day budgeting, keeping up with bills, credit commitments and setting money aside for big purchases, followed by Australia in 2nd (75%) and Hong Kong (72%) moving up one spot from 4th in 2010 to 3rd in 2012. 

Hong Kong (68%), Taiwan (67%) and China (65%) topped the investment component of the research. More respondents in these markets understood their bank statements and complex investment concepts such as diversification and inflation. 

Koreans proved to have the region’s most improved scores for financial planning (83%) up 12 places from the 2010 survey. Survey respondents from Taiwan (83%) and Vietnam (82%) also saved more regularly and were better prepared than their regional counterparts when it came to retirement preparations and emergency savings. 

In mature markets, respondents over 30 years of age appeared to score higher in financial literacy compared to their counterparts under the age of 30. This was especially seen in markets like New Zealand (76% vs. 65%), Australia (74% vs. 64%) and Taiwan (74% vs. 70%) where respondents over 30 years old were clearly leading the pack. 


The Index is based on a survey of consumers from 25 markets across APMEA and comprises questions covering three major components:

  • Basic Money Management (50% weight): To determine the level of basic money management skills in terms of budgeting, savings, and responsibility of credit usage.
  • Financial Planning (30% weight): To assess level of knowledge about financial products, services, and concepts, and ability to plan for long-term financial needs.
  • Investment (20% weight): To determine basic understanding of the various risks associated with investment, different investment products and skills required.

A Financial Literacy Index Score for each market was calculated out of the weighted sum of the 3 components. 

Regional Aggregates are calculated via the average of the individual country components before applying the weights described above.

Interviews for the MasterCard Worldwide Financial Literacy Index were conducted via internet surveys, personal, telephone and Computer Aided Telephone interviews, with the questionnaire translated to the local language wherever appropriate and necessary.

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