Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Teaching Money Literacy in a Positive Youth Development Program: The Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Teaching Money Literacy in a Positive Youth Development Program: The Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong

Article excerpt


Economic and social environments are changing at an ever increasing pace in modern cities around the world. The money problems of any society range from generating enough work opportunities for various classes of people, providing access to opportunities to accumulate wealth, and helping our younger generations face other challenging issues involving money. With the rise of globalization, especially over the last two decades, aspects of the money problem appear as (i) gaining money for survival, (ii) equitable distribution among different classes, and (iii) materialism or hyper-consumption. For example, a national poll in the United States found that 53% of teens said that buying certain products makes them feel better about themselves[1].

The trend of the money problem

Apart from studying adolescents' and youths' financial knowledge, studies in Hong Kong focused on investigating their value judgments towards money and success, including covering topics on the relationships between money and self-image, family relationships, clarifying one's life mission, etc. Law[2]stated that young people's value judgments towards money were affected by the social environment. Studies have also confirmed that the less conservative saving habits of adolescents have roots in their parents' behaviors[3,4].A survey found that as high as 34.3% of the Grades 7 to 9 students wished to find quick ways to get money to the extent that they would ignore negative consequences from way they choose to earn the money[5]. Most worrisome is that one-third of the adolescents would consider using unethical or even unlawful means to get money. In a survey of 586 children and youths age 12 to 20, 34% of the respondents indicated that they would consider offering compensated dating (serving as a companion of whoever who will give them money or luxury gifts) and 57% of these respondents opined that they would do it in order to earn quick money[6]. A recent study of 98 young people under the age of 18 who had engaged in compensated dating showed that 16.8% of them had engaged in prostitution or compensated dating involving sexual relationships[7].

The concept of success

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica[8], the definitions of success are 1) obsolete: outcome and result, 2) a degree or measure of succeeding: favorable or desired outcome; and the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence, 3) one that succeeds. Chinese parents usually expect their children to show obedience, proper behavior and good academic results[9] because they believe that outstanding examination results will lead to better job opportunities and better pay. Their concept of success is quite instrumental and often materialistic. Parental influences on the development of the concept of money and success in adolescents are reflected in a number of surveys on the most desired outcomes of youths. Good academic results, outstanding sports performance, and harmonious family relationships receive the top rankings[2,10-12]. Although about half[2] to 77%[12] of teenage respondents do not agree, about 20% to 30% of the respondents view money as the only criterion for measuring success.

Results from a recent survey among students from six secondary schools showed that half of the teenage respondents agreed that "with money, they will have a better future" and "money can buy happiness". Only about 80% of respondents agreed that they will not break the law for money[13]. Another survey found that 11% of teenagers opined that success depends on luck instead of personal efforts[14].This disturbing figure was attributed to the sudden growth of gambling through the internet in that period of time.

Adolescents' conception of success can change as a result of social change. For example, after the financial tsunami in 2008, over 77.4% of youths opined that earning quick money does not mean success[12]. The above studies showed that teenagers' view toward money and success may change depending on the social and economic environment. …

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