Financial Capability and Asset Building

Financial capability refers to individual’s knowledge, skills, and ability to make appropriate financial decisions, managing credit and debit, and identifying appropriate financial products and services (Atkinson et al., 2007). As the financial marketplace becomes increasingly complex, many households struggle with managing cash-flows, planning and investing in the future, and evaluating different credit options. Compared to previous generations, individuals today are increasingly responsible for their own financial well-being. Taking micro and macro environment factors in to consideration Sherraden (2013) refers to financial capability as people’s internal capacities such as ability, knowledge and skills, and external conditions such as access to products, services and institutions. Social workers interface with families at all levels and are positioned to promote financial capability. Social work researchers and educators are making considerable contributions to the development of the theories in the area of financial capability (Birkenmaier et. al, 2013). This project aims to: (a) measure financial capability of Canadian households; (b) compare financial capability of low-income households with non-low-income households; and (c) identify the determinants of financial capability.


This project uses data from the 2009 & 2013 Canadian Financial Capability Survey (CFCS) conducted by Statistics Canada. These surveys contain items on financial knowledge both in subjective and objective approach, and financial behaviors in different domains such as making ends meet, managing money, planning ahead, choosing products and staying informed etc. We access data via the Quebec Inter-University Centre for Social Statistics (QICSS) data laboratory at McGill University.