Federal Reserve's Elizabeth Duke wants financial education in schools
A shifting housing market and a changing financial landscape are making financial education a must in American schools, according to one Federal Reserve governor. Speaking Tuesday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Elizabeth Duke outlined a shaky future where baby boomers are forced to accurately time the onset of pension and Social Security collections and where more younger consumers are returning home in droves to save money. All of these consumers have one thing in common — the value of homeownership appears to be slipping with all the financial stressors in play, Duke said. She cited a recent Fannie Mae study that showed the percentage of borrowers more likely to rent than buy their next home rose to 33% from 30% earlier. "Today's consumers are making decisions among increasingly complex financial products and in the context of uncertain economic times," Duke said. "A working knowledge of basic financial terms and concepts can lead to better economic decisions and outcomes for individuals over the course of a lifetime. In addition, there is a clear relationship between individuals' financial decisions and the health of our entire economy." Duke said financial education should at least be incorporated in basic math and social science courses to ensure young Americans understand the basics of managing one's financial welfare. Other areas of concern, she said, are the decline in starting salaries for college graduates. Duke also is worried more Americans are making early withdrawals from their 401(k) plans at a time when individuals will have to shoulder more responsibility for retirement funding. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.