Investigating The Form and Determinants of Financial Wellbeing: Evidence from Online Education

Nguyen-Cousins, Tam (2022). Investigating The Form and Determinants of Financial Wellbeing: Evidence from Online Education. PhD thesis The Open University.



“Finance, money and debt” are the most common causes of anxiety affecting mental health and wellbeing (Swift et al., 2014). The main purpose of this study is to explore the nature and determinants of financial wellbeing (FWB) in the context of online financial education. This knowledge is needed to identify the intervention strategies that could promote FWB and consider whether these determinants should be focused on simultaneously or individually.

This study uses the recent concepts of FWB which identify desired living standards and financial freedom as the essence of FWB (Brüggen et al., 2017; CFPB, 2015a). These concepts are employed together with an adaptation of the concept of human needs based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943, 1954). The study examines financial needs satisfaction and perceived financial wellbeing (Perceived FWB) as two components of FWB amongst learners in online financial education who intend to improve their financial capability. A pragmatic approach which uses a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, such as survey and interview, is used in the study. Quantitative dominant crossover mixed analysis has been selected.

The study finds that financial capacity – wealth and income – is by far the strongest determinant of FWB. Financial capacity is found to be a key determinant of both Perceived FWB and financial needs satisfaction. The role of financial behaviours is much less significant than financial capacity in determining FWB, though this may be because financial capacity might reflect the outcome of individual financial behaviour. By contrast, financial attitudes and perceived financial capability are only key determinants of Perceived FWB. The study suggests a hierarchy of financial needs satisfaction with four levels: finance for existence, finance for security, finance for enjoyment, and finance for self-actualisation that fit into the hierarchy of Maslow's human needs framework. Finally, the ‘being in control’ financial attitude is identified as the key attitude in terms of its effect on FWB, corroborating the results from Vlaev and Elliott (2014); similarly, ‘savings and investment’ behaviours are found to be a key behavioural factor.

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