CFPB Analysis Examines Financial Well-Being Of Military Veterans

WASHINGTON–The CFPB has released new findings around the financial well-being of military veterans.

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The findings were gathered as part of a larger survey first launched in 2015 in which the Bureau  released a scale to measure a person’s sense of financial well-being. In late 2016, it administered the financial well-being scale in a nationwide survey of adults in the United States.

“Although the survey was not specifically targeted to veterans and was not a nationally representative sample, a sizeable number of respondents identified as veterans and the Bureau analyzed the veteran responses to produce this research brief,” the Bureau said. “The Bureau’s review of the veterans in the survey found that veterans reported higher levels of financial well-being than the average U.S. adult. An analysis of the veteran survey responses found evidence that financial skills (e.g. making a budget, not overspending, etc.) is positively associated with financial behavior, which is also positively associated with financial situation and higher levels of financial well-being. This analysis suggests that, for veterans, there is a pathway from financial skill to financial well-being.”

Socioeconomic Characteristics

According to the CFPB, the analysis found a number of socioeconomic characteristics are associated with positive financial well-being. The strongest associations were with higher education, age, physical health, and homeownership.

“However, the analysis also found that veterans, like other U.S. adults, have financial experiences that are negatively associated with financial well-being, including student loan debt, using non-bank, short-term credit products and being contacted by a debt collector,” the CFPB said.

“The Bureau’s analysis also suggests for veterans that strong positive associations to financial well-being are in areas that can be acquired through education and practice,” the CFPB said. “While this is good news for practitioners in the area of military financial education and intervention, the study raises additional questions. For example, the study does not answer whether the higher financial well-being scores for veterans are related to military service or are related to the demographic, attitudinal, and situational characteristics of the veteran that would be similar in non-veterans who shared those characteristics. Further research is necessary to discern whether the associated characteristics and experiences identified herein are truly related to military service.”

Relatively High Score

According to the CFPB, the financial well-being of veterans who took the survey is relatively high, with an average financial well-being score of 61 for the veterans in this sample (on a scale from 0 to 100).

“It is worth noting, however, that there is a wide range of scores, with a 36 point difference between the bottom 10% and the top 10% of scores, suggesting there is substantial variation in how veterans feel about their financial security and their ability to make financial choices. Nevertheless, the distribution of scores of veterans is significantly higher than the U.S. population at every percentile.”

For the full CFPB report, go here.

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