Nearly 30,000 students across 18 of the world's industrialized nations were tested on how they understood financial matters.

Story highlights

The OECD tested "financial literacy" of 15-year-olds across 18 countries

American teenagers rank below average -- while Chinese kids are the best

Try the test yourself, answers are at the bottom of the story

CNN  — 

American teenagers rank below average when it comes to understanding the value of money – while Chinese kids are the best.

In a quiz designed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to reveal “financial literacy” of 15-year-olds, students from the U.S., Russia and Latvia emerged as below middling. Teens from China, Belgium, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand were revealed as the savviest.

Nearly 30,000 students across 18 of the world’s industrialized nations were tested on how they understood financial matters for the report.

Financial literacy ranking

  • Financial literacy ranking
  • 1. Shanghai-China
    2. Belgium
    3. Estonia
    4. Australia
    5. New Zealand
    6. Czech Republic
    7. Poland
    OECD Average
    8. Latvia
    9. United States
    10. Russia
    11. France
    12. Slovenia
    13. Spain
    14. Croatia
    15. Israel
    16. Slovak Republic
    17. Italy
    18. Colombia
    Source: OECD

    The 15-year olds were given range of tasks – from figuring out an invoice and payslip to making a judgment on value of money.

    Do you think consider yourself money smart? Then try answering the three questions below, taken from the OECD test. Answers are at the bottom of the story.

    1. You can buy tomatoes by the kilogram or by the box.

    Bought loose, they are $2.75 per kilogram, while a 10 kilogram box is $22. The box of tomatoes is better value for money than the loose tomatoes.


    2: Mrs Jones has a loan of $8,000 with FirstZed Finance.

    The annual interest rate on the loan is 15%. Her repayments each month are $150. After one year Mrs Jones still owes $7,400.

    Another finance company called Zedbest will give Mrs Jones a loan of $10,000 with an annual interest rate of 13%. Her repayments each month would also be $150. If she takes the Zedbest loan, Mrs Jones will immediately pay off her existing loan.

    What are two other financial benefits for Mrs Jones if she takes the Zedbest loan? What is one possible negative financial consequence for Mrs Jones if she agrees to the Zedbest loan?

    3: Each month, Jane’s salary is paid into her bank account. This is Jane’s pay slip for July:

    EMPLOYEE PAY SLIP: Jane Citizen - 1 July to 31 July

    Position: Manager

    Gross salary $2,800

    Deductions $300

    Net salary $2,500

    Gross salary to date this year $19,600

    How much money did Jane’s employer pay into her bank account on 31 July?

    A. $300

    B. $2,500

    C. $2,800

    D. $19,600


    1. The price per kilogram of boxed tomatoes is less than the price per kilogram for loose tomatoes – $2.20 per kg for the boxed tomatoes compared to $2.75 per kg for the loose tomatoes.

    2. Mrs Jones will have extra money to use and will get a lower interest rate. But she will also owe more money overall, will pay more interest in total and will take longer to repay her debt.

    3: B

    (Source: OECD)