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Photograph: Photo by Ken Teegardin, used under CC BY-SA

Financial literacy in Croatia is average, but a bigger problem than that is the discrepancy between financial literacy and financial behaviour, shows a survey published on Thursday.

The average financial literacy score in Croatia is 11.7 of the maximum 21 points. Persons under the age of 19 have the lowest level of financial literacy and respondents with university education and incomes exceeding HRK 6,250 and those who live in bigger cities have the highest level of financial literacy, shows the survey presented by the Croatian National Bank (HNB) and the Croatian Financial Transactions Supervisory Agency.

The survey covered 1,000 respondents aged 18-79 and the methodology used was that of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It measured three basic categories: financial competence, financial behavior and the attitude to spending.

"Croatia is somewhere in the middle in terms of financial literacy. Croatians' financial literacy is slightly better than their financial behaviour, which shows that those two categories do not necessarily go hand in hand," HNB governor Boris Vujcic said while presenting the survey results.

As for financial competence, 74% of the respondents are familiar with the impact inflation has on their lives, 69% are aware that big potential profits carry big risks, while two in three Croatians knowingly use reasonable distribution of investment and saving as protection against risks. Also, 80% of the respondents understand the concept of loan interest, it was said at the presentation.

However, a slightly lower percentage of respondents behave responsibly in terms of finance. Slightly more than 60% of the respondents take due care when it comes to their financial transactions, costs, purchases and the payment of bills and debts.

"The weak correlation between financial competence and financial behaviour shows that Croatian citizens, even though relatively aware of the benefits of financially responsible behaviour, do not always behave that way in everyday life," said Srdjan Dumicic of the Ipsos agency, which conducted the survey.

He added that Croatians are generally financially responsible and not prone to risks, but that education is necessary for young people and citizens who earn less and are less educated. The survey has revealed that citizens with a lower income and a weaker educational background have significantly less knowledge of basic economic and financial terms, more rarely manage their household budgets, are less secure about their own pension plans, are less informed about financial products and use them less frequently.

As for the attitude to money, young people are the most irresponsible. Thirty percent of the respondents have no financial plans whatsoever, 28% prefer to spend money right away than to save it, and 50% believe that money is there to be spent.

HNB vice-governor Bojan Fran said the HNB would soon launch a new web site that would include educational materials, and he announced cooperation with secondary school teachers for the purpose of possibly introducing financial education in school curricula.

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