This dissertation explores financial decision-making and outcomes among young adults in the United States in order to inform policies that promote saving and financial security. The study presents a five-phase conceptual model of the financial decision-making process and describes the influence of individual-level and environmental factors. Following the model, three empirical studies are presented. The first describes how financial portfolios have changed over the last five decades and finds that wealth, inequalities and financial risk have risen among young households. The second empirical study applies statistical and network analysis techniques to describe patterns in financial portfolios, finding that young households accumulate financial accounts in a particular order in accordance with emergence of financial needs over the life course. The third empirical study describes the process by which young adults save for the future, using data collected from a series of semi-structured interviews. Together, the findings of all three empirical studies suggest that despite large variations in outcome, the process by which young adults build their financial portfolios is largely the same.
Table of Contents
Overview and background
Trends in financial outcomes among young adults in the U.S.
Analyzing the patterns in financial account-holding among young Americans: A network analysis approach
The process of saving money
Synthesis of key results
Technical Appendix for Chapter 3
Technical Appendix for Chapter 4
Technical Appendix for Chapter 5