Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. It has a population of 42 million, with high levels of education but low incomes compared to its neighbours. Since 1991 it has been transforming slowly from a Soviet economy into a European market economy. However, the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the ensuing threats of conflict increased security concerns and reduced economic activity. Surveys have shown that Ukrainians have very low levels of trust in numerous institutions, including banks., There are very small markets for financial products including insurance, mortgages, pensions and investments.
This 2019 report was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and prepared by the USAID Financial Sector Transformation Project. This report represents the findings from a national financial literacy survey conducted by a market research company called ‘inMind’ in Ukraine in December 2018. It was conducted via face-to-face interviews that took an average of 40 minutes. The survey covers most regions of Ukraine, except Crimea and the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk that are not under the control of the Ukrainian Government. In total, 2,007 Ukrainians aged 18-79 were interviewed.
The survey was based on a questionnaire developed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s International Network on Financial Education (OECD / INFE), with additional questions from past studies and ones that were requested by the National Bank of Ukraine. The survey was used to calculate the OECD financial literacy index for Ukraine and compare it with 30 other countries. This index scores financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
- Ukraine’s overall financial literacy index score produced is 11.6 (out of 21).
- Out of 30 countries included in a similar 2016 OECD survey, the Ukrainian score is the joint lowest (level with Poland). It is lower than Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Russia and Turkey. The main difference in results is driven by poor performance on the financial attitudes and knowledge components measured in the survey.
- Overall financial literacy levels varied only slightly by gender and whether participants lived in a rural or urban areas. However, there were larger differences based on age, education levels, and income.
- Financial literacy scores were lowest among those aged 18-24.
- People with secondary education averaged an overall index score of 10.4, compared to 12.5 among those with higher education.
- While financial knowledge and behaviour scores increased significantly in line with income, financial attitudes were the same across income groups.
- Only 43% of Ukrainians achieved a score of at least five-out-of-seven on the knowledge questions, compared to an average of 56% across all countries in the OECD 2016 survey.
- Whether a respondent uses a bank account or not was the largest driver of financial knowledge scores.
- For example, 72% of people who use a bank account understood the ‘time value’ of money, compared to just 55% without a bank account.
- Short-term thinking and a preference for spending rather than saving dominate Ukrainian attitudes towards their finances.
- While 40% of Ukrainians are comfortable taking to family and friends about money, 41% are not. This is seen as important, as it’s hard to improve financial literacy among people who are uncomfortable taking about money.
- The average financial behaviour score in Ukraine was 5.2 (on a scale of 0-9). This was higher than its neighbouring countries but lower than the 5.4 average from the 30 countries in the 2016 OECD survey.
- Only 12% of Ukrainians said that they saved by paying into a savings account. However, over half (52%) said they saved ‘in their wallet’ or at home, again demonstrating the short-termism that appears prevalent in the financial behaviours and attitudes of Ukrainians.
- The usage of financial products in Ukraine is low, with only 60% saying they had used any form of financial product in the past two years.
- The survey showed that Ukrainians had negative views about their financial wellbeing, with two-thirds (67%) stating that their financial situation limited their ability to do the things that are important to them.
- The report states that Ukrainian banks need to earn people’s trust, along with stronger consumer protection laws being put in place.
- The authors conclude by saying that there is huge potential for improvement in financial literacy and wellbeing among the Ukrainian population.
Points to consider:
Methodological strengths and limitations:
- The report is designed and weighted to be nationally representative of Ukraine, though note that due to political reasons not all regions could be included in the survey.
- Comparisons with other OECD countries are based on a survey from two years prior to the research reported in this summary.
- This report is relevant to anyone with an interest in measuring financial literacy, and in particular to those whose research or planned financial capability interventions relate to Eastern Europe.
- This research is based on Ukraine and as such the findings are not transferable to a UK context. However, some of the data collection processes and survey methodology may be of interest to UK researchers.