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Predicting debt burden status among Malaysia civil servants

  • Faculty of Human Ecology-Universiti Putra Malaysia

Abstract and Figures

The pressure of high inflation rate and increased cost of living has invoked the concerns over the problem of debt among civil servants in Malaysia. This paper aims to investigate the determinants of debt burden status within a civil servants’ sample. Questionnaires were distributed using a multi-stage random sampling method. A total of 600 responses were collected. Results from logistic regression showed several significant predictors of debt burden status, namely savings to income ratio, financial status, and income adequacy. This study outlined the predictors of debt burden status among Malaysian civil servants, providing civil servants with some ideas to counter debt issues which have been prevalent for a long time.
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Journal of
Economies and
Islamic Research
Journal of Emerging Economies & Islamic Research 7(3) 2019, 1 – 11.
* Corresponding author. E-mail address:
©UiTM Press, Universiti Teknologi MARA
Predicting debt burden status among Malaysia civil servants
Mohamad Fazli Sabri
Nuraini Abdullah
, Husniyah Abdul Rahim
, Radduan Yusof
Mohd. Amim Othman
& Ahmad Hariza Hashim
Department of Resource Management and Consumer Studies, Faculty of Human Ecology, University Putra Malaysia, UPM
Faculty of Administrative Science & Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia
Article history:
Received 9 June 2018
Received in revised form
11 July 2018
Accepted 3 August 2019
Published 30 September 2019
The pressure of high inflation rate and increased cost of living has
invoked the concerns over the problem of debt among civil servants in
Malaysia. This paper aims to investigate the determinants of debt burden
status within a civil servants’ sample. Questionnaires were distributed
using a multi-stage random sampling method. A total of 600 responses
were collected. Results from logistic regression showed several
significant predictors of debt burden status, namely savings to income
ratio, financial status, and income adequacy. This study outlined the
predictors of debt burden status among Malaysian civil servants,
providing civil servants with some ideas to counter debt issues which
have been prevalent for a long time.
Debt burden
Savings ration
Financial status
Income adequacies
1. Introduction
1.1 Introduction to the problem
The growth in inflation rate has been burdening Malaysian household in the past few years. The
average Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed an increase from year 2017 to 2018 (Department of
Statistics Malaysia, 2018), mainly leading by rise in prices in terms of housing, water, electricity, gas and
other fuels (+2.1%), food and non-alcoholic beverages (+1.2%), restaurants and hotels (+1.2%). The
phenomenon suggests that Malaysian households have been experiencing greater difficulty in sustaining
their standard of living given constant income level. With salary hike lagging behind rising inflation,
households’ finance status continues to take a beating, and the consequences have been particularly
notable for those who possess an unmanageable sum of debts.
Notably, Malaysian civil servants have been reported as a significant group facing debt problems.
Based on a recent report by Bank Negara Malaysia (2018) the outstanding civil servants’ debt has been
rising since 2012, and the borrowing from civil servants are substantially higher than that of the national
average (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2018). A closer look into the composition of borrowing shows that
nearly half of civil servants’ borrowings are for consumption purposes, such as personal financing and
motor vehicles. More importantly, civil servants' debt repayment capacity has been reported to be lower
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©UiTM Press, Universiti Teknologi MARA
compared to average borrowers. In general, civil servants spend more than half of their monthly income
on repaying debts incurred and thus leaving them with little usable income for emergency purposes.
Consequently, it has been documented that more than 49,000 Malaysian civil servants are facing
bankruptcy due to debt problems (Bank Negara Malaysia, 2018).
Despite the efforts by the government, especially Bank Negara Malaysia, in conducting various
financial education and outreach programmes such as Duit Saku and Power!, the problems of financial
management among civil servants continue to escalate. Inevitably, carrying an exceeding amount of debts
is likely to create perceived burdens among civil servants, and probably jeopardize their financial well-
being. The string of consequences potentially triggered by debt burden is disastrous and should not be
underestimated as civil servants are workers who directly involved in a country’s development. For
instance, financial distress has been proven to be directly related to employees’ productivity (Hogarth &
Hilgert, 2002). Therefore, an examination of predictors influencing debt burden status appears to be
necessary as a first step to curb debt problems among Malaysian civil servants.
Financial illiteracy and undesired financial behaviours appear to be two important financial related
variables influencing individuals’ financial outcomes. Low level of financial literacy causes individuals to
be incapable of executing optimal financial planning (Consumer Research & Resource Centre, 2012;
Hogart & Hilgert, 2002). On top of that, poor financial behaviours, such as lack of budget planning and
accumulating excessive debts may result in an increased feeling of burden (Malaysian Financial Planning
Council, 2016). Besides, it is hypothesized in this study that socioeconomic status may predict debt
burden status since a similar amount of debts may be perceived differently in terms of their burdening
level by individuals with different socio-economic status. In brief, this study seeks to understand the
factors (financial literacy, financial behaviours, and socioeconomic status) predicting civil servants’ debt
burden status, aiming to provide a preliminary view for practitioners to counter debt-burden.
1.2 Theoretical Background
The Life-Cycle Hypothesis (Modigliani & Brumberg, 1954) serves as the basic theory to explain this
research framework. The Life-Cycle Hypothesis remains an essential part of an economist’s thinking
despite many challenges, mostly from psychologist economist. The theory has continuously provided a
framework on intertemporal issues, both on an individuals and economy-wide level (Deaton, 2005). The
theory assumes individual/household plans their lifetime consumption patterns to maximize the total
utility it acquires from consumption during their lifetime. Therefore, individuals would maintain the same
level of consumption throughout their lifetimes by taking the debt or liquidating their assets (Sablik,
2016). By using up the assets or liquidating the assets, individual/household can allocate a certain amount
for retirement or alter their consumption for the different need at different ages (Deaton, 2005). Several
studies have used to explain how household/individual spending would reflect future consumption pattern
of spending (Murphy, 1998; Baek & Hong, 2004) using the Life-Cycle hypothesis.
1.3 Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses
The research model for this study in Figure 1 can be explained based on the Life-Cycle Hypothesis.
On the part of socio-economic are savings to income ratio, financial status and income adequacy. These
variables may approximate the financial burden of household/individual. If the individual spent too much,
therefore he/she will have a low level of saving, own more debt than assets and also face insufficient
income. This may lead to excessive debt or dissaving, according to Bael and Hong (2004). Apart from
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©UiTM Press, Universiti Teknologi MARA
that, a sound decision regarding the financial matter can be made if individual/ household have enough
financial literacy and good financial behaviour.
Fig. 1. Conceptual Framework
Socio-economic such as financial status and save for future use were likely to predict debt behaviour in
the future (Baek & Hong, 2004). The socioeconomic might as well influence the tendency of
individual/household to borrow. Not only that, but financial literacy has also been found to predict debt
burdens as stated by previous researchers (Gathergood, 2012; Huston, 2010; Idris et al., 2016) where
financial knowledge may lead to better financial decisions and minimise the tendency to be in debt.
Whereas, financial behaviour and attitude become among the factors leading to high debt burden among
individuals (Idris et al., 2016). Therefore, it is hypothesised that:
H1: Savings to income ratio, financial status, income adequacy, financial literacy, and financial
behaviour do significantly predict debt burden
2. Method
2.1 Sampling
Multi-stage random sampling was used in this study. Government agencies located in Peninsular
Malaysia were targeted in the first phase of sampling. Firstly, the states were divided into four zones as
suggested by Syed Hussain, Nasarah and Othman (2016). The zones involved were the North (Perlis,
Kedah, and Penang), South (Johor, Malacca and Negeri Sembilan), East (Terengganu, Pahang and
Kelantan) and Central (Perak, Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya and Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala
Lumpur) zones. Next, a single state was randomly selected through a ballot to represent the sample zone.
As a result, the state of Penang, Malacca, Pahang and Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya were selected
respectively to represent each zone. Subsequently, based on a list of government agencies located in the
selected areas, five government agencies were again randomly selected from each location through a
ballot. Finally, respondents were randomly selected from each agency. According to the Department of
Statistics Malaysia in 2018, there were at least 14.94 million of the labour forces in Malaysia in
November 2018. As suggested by Dilman (2007), the required sample size for this study was 384
respondents. However, a total sample of 600 respondent was selected to avoid measurement error and to
compensate for lost and unreturned questionnaires.
Savings to income ratio
Financial status
Income adequacy
Financial Literacy
Financial Behaviour
Debt Burden
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2.2 Data collection and Measurements
The questionnaires were self-administered by the respective respondent in the selected government
agencies. Informed consent was obtained from each respondent before the study. The respondents took
part in the study after being briefed with the aim and importance of the study. The questionnaire was
designed in closed-ended forms with all possible answers provided, and respondents were required to
choose the answer, which reflects them the most. All measurements used for this study were adopted
from previous relevant studies. The details for each measurement and their codings in the logistic
regression are presented as in Table 1. The codings were such that a score of ‘1’reflected a debt burden
while the codings for the groupings of each of the variables showed low savings, low financial status and
low-income adequacy.
Table 1. Summary of measurements
Variables Name Dichotomous variables
Debt burden status 0 - Not Burden
1 – Burden
Savings to income ratio
Reference group = >20%
0% 0 - >20%
1 - 0%
1%-<10% 0 - >20%
1 - 1%-<10%
10%-<20% 0 - >20%
1 - 10%-<20%
Financial status
Reference group =
more than debt
Assets less than debt 0 - Assets more than debt
1 - Assets less than debt
Assets equal to the debt
0 - Assets more than debt
1 - Assets equals to debt
Income adequacy
Reference group = Enough
for most things and savings
Not enough 0 -
Enough for most things and savings
1 - Not enough
Enough for the only basic
0 -
Enough for most things and savings
1 - Enough for an only basic necessity
Enough for most things 0 -
Enough for most things and savings
1 - Enough for most things
Financial literacy Continuous variable
Financial behaviour Continuous variable
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i) Socio-Economic Status
In predicting debt burden status, socio-economic status was measured using several variables, such as
savings to income ratio, financial status, and income adequacy. All variables were coded on a categorical
scale. The savings to income ratio was categorised into four levels, which are 0%, 1%-<10%, 10%-<20%
and ≥20%. For financial status, respondents chose three response options which are (1) assets less than
debt; (2) asset equals to debt and; (3) assets more than debt. With regards to income adequacy,
respondents were asked to choose from the following options: (1) not enough; (2) enough for necessities;
(3) enough for most things and; (4) enough for most things and savings.
ii) Financial Literacy
The measurement of financial literacy consisted of 17 statements that were adopted from Sabri,
MacDonald, Hira and Masud
(2010) concerning the general knowledge level towards finance.
Respondents were asked to choose “True” or “False” after reading each statement. One point was given
for each correct answer.
iii) Financial Behaviour
Financial behaviour consisted of 23 questions measured on a 5-point frequency scale, from (1) never to (5)
always. The measurement was adopted from Barberis and Thaler (2003); Stawski, Hershey, and Jacobs-
Lawson (2007); Rajna and Anthony (2011) and Mien and Thao (2015).
3. Results
Descriptive analysis was performed to understand the background of the respondents. As shown in
Table 2, demographic variables included in this study were gender, age, ethnic, marital status, level of
education and monthly income.
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Table 2. Socio-demographic Characteristic
Variables Frequency (N=600) Percentage (%)
Male 246 42
Female 340 58
<29 years old 144 24.5
30-39 years old 312 53.5
40-49 years old 88 15
50 years old and above 42 7.2
Malay 538 92.8
Chinese 16 2.8
Indian 12 2.1
Others 14 2.4
Marital Status
Single 165 28.2
Married 420 71.8
Education Level
Secondary 29 48.3
Tertiary 302 51.7
Household Income
< RM3,000 247 42.8
RM3,000-RM4,999 208 36
RM5,000-RM6,999 100 17.3
>RM7,000 22 3.8
Most of the respondents were female (58%). In terms of age, a higher percentage of the respondents
(53.2%) aged between 30 to 39 years old, followed by 23.5 per cent of the respondents aged less than 29
years old. Majority of the respondents were Malay (92.8%). A total of 72 per cent of the respondents were
married. With regards to educational level, respondents with secondary (48.3%) and tertiary education
level (51.7%) were nearly equally distributed. Most of the respondents (42.8%) have income less than
RM3,000 per month, followed by 36 per cent of the respondents earned RM3,000 to RM4,999 per month,
and 17.3 per cent of the respondents earned RM5,000 to RM6,999 monthly.
3.1 Logistic Regression Model
The binary logistic regression analysis model was carried out on the data because the dependent variable
is a dichotomous measurement (Debt burden status) with three predictor variables (refer to Table 1). The
logistic regression performed to examine if the binary variable (Debt burden status = Not Burden (0) and
Burden (1)) differed in terms of socioeconomic status, financial literacy and financial behaviour
(categorical/continuous scale). Table 3 exhibited the results of logistic regression analysis concerning the
factors influencing the likelihood of debt burden status among civil servants. As demonstrated in Table 3,
the Hosmer-Lemeshow test showed
(df=10, N=543) = 6.336, indicating a good model fit. The model
explained 32 per cent variance in the likelihood of debt burden status. The Wald test identified seven
groups significantly predicting likelihood of debt burden status, which fall under variables namely
savings to income ratio (group: no savings and 1%-<10%), financial status (group: assets less than debt
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and assets equals to debt) and income adequacy (group: not enough, enough for most things and enough
for most things).
Thus, three salient factors predicting debt burden status were identified in this study, namely, savings to
income ratio, financial status, and income adequacy. In general, civil servants who at least do savings are
less likely to be burdened by debt problems. Specifically, those who save less as compared to those
savings more (more than 20%) were negatively predicting debt burden. Furthermore, those who save
between one to ten per cent from their income exhibit an even lesser odd (61.0% less likely) of debt
burden as compared to those with no savings (74.2% less likely). Next, low financial status was revealed
to be negatively related to debt burden status. Regardless civil servants possess assets less than or equal to
debts, their odds of being burdened by debts were roughly equal. Subsequently, findings showed that
when income is enough for most thing, the odds of civil servants falling into debt burden status is lesser
(48.4% less likely) compared to civil servants who have not enough income (87.6% less likely) or income
enough only for necessities (86.1% less likely). The effects of financial literacy and financial behaviour in
predicting debt burden status were insignificant.
Table 3. Logistic regression predicting the likelihood of debt burden status of civil servants
Note: Significant levels; **p<0.01; *p<0.05
Reference groups: Savings to income ratio = > 20%; Financial status = Asset>debt; Income adequacy = Enough for most
things and savings
4. Discussion
This study provides some insights into debt burden status within a sample of Malaysian civil servants.
Firstly, saving to income ratio appears to be a significant factor in predicting debt burden status among
Malaysian civil servants. In particular, it has been observed that civil servants who save between ten to
twenty per cent of their income are less likely to fall into debt burden status compared to those who save
at a lesser ratio. The result is aligned with a study by Cox, Hooker, Markwick, and Reilly (2009) and
Kamakia, Mwangi, and Mwangi (2017) who found that individuals who have lower levels of savings will
lead to higher debts, therefore, have a lower level of financial well-being.
Secondly, the results of this study revealed a negative effect of financial status on the likelihood of
being debt-burdened. Although civil servants who have assets less than their debts appear to have lesser
Predictor variables β Wald
Statistics Sig. Exp. (B)
Savings to income ratio
0% -1.355 5.080* .024 .258
1%-<10% -.942 6.14* .013 .390
10%-<20% -.398 1.042 .307 .672
Financial status
Assets less than debt -.845 8.603** .003 .429
Assets equal to the debt
-.866 11.968** .001 .421
Income Adequacy
Not enough -2.09 16.796** .000 .124
Enough for the only basic necessity
-1.97 41.44** .000 .139
Enough for most things -.661 6.129* .013 .516
Financial literacy .040 .878 .349 1.041
Financial behaviour -.001 .022 .881 .999
Constant 1.367 4.383 .036 3.923
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odds of facing debt burdens, the odds do not differ much from those who have assets equal to debts. This
counter-intuitive finding is contradicted to that of Sweet et al. (2013), who indicates that high financial
debt relative to available assets is related to higher perceived stress. However, as asserted by Dew (2007),
individuals voluntarily expanding their debt as a means to maximize their utility and to achieve individual
psychological states. In such an instance, they may not perceive their debt as burdening, providing an
explanation to the result that balancing assets and debts not necessarily better off for civil servants.
Thirdly, in line with the earlier expectation, income adequacy was a significant predictor of civil
servants’ likelihood to be debt-burdened. Results indicated that civil servants who have income that
enough for most things are less likely to be debt-burdened compared to those who have not enough
income or have income only enough for necessities. The finding is in line with resource deficit hypothesis
(RDH), claiming that perceived income adequacy is compared to individuals’ predetermined standard,
and the gap between the twos determine financial satisfaction (Grable et al., 2013). Therefore, it is
intuitive to put forward that civil servants would be less likely to strain for debts when their income can
cover the majority of expenses.
Finally, it is surprising to observe that financial literacy and financial behaviour did not significantly
predict debt burden status. The finding refutes previous results reported in the literature (Hogart &
Hilgert, 2002). It is commonly believed that possessing an adequate level of financial literacy and
executing sound financial behaviour would prevent related financial outcomes, such as overindebtedness
(Anderloni & Vandone, 2011; Lusardi & Tufano, 2015). This unexpected result can probably explain by
the fact that this study employed self-assessed debt burdens which may provide a different estimate of the
current economic situation compared to objective evaluation. The main takeaway is that individuals may
overestimate or underestimate their debt burdens regardless of the level of financial literacy and financial
behaviour as perceived debt burdening may be more of approximation from memory retrieval and state of
This study provides several practical implications to civil servants as well as relevant authorities in
Malaysia. Civil servants need to engage themselves in saving. Their chance of being debt-burdened may
reduce if they can have more saving to income ratio. Next, although not much difference was identified
between two financial statuses (assets less than debts and assets equal to debts), it is still advised civil
servants to maintain a healthy balance between assets and debts. Lastly, civil servants should manage
their income effectively, mainly focusing on fulfilling all necessities as the basis, and then only move to
the pursuit of higher wants. This would reduce their chance of being burdened by excessive debts.
Although this study presented several noteworthy findings, it has several limitations to be addressed in
future research. First, this study is cross-sectional, thereby limiting its ability to infer causation. Future
research is suggested to conduct a longitudinal study in examining the effects of predictors proposed in
this study. Second, this study employed a subjective measurement of debt burden status. Although being
valid, future research can complement this study by using an objective measurement to provide a
comparison between the two. Such an approach presents a fruitful research direction. Lastly, future
research should consider psychological variables as these variables may associate closely to a person’
judgment of feeling, particularly towards a feeling of a debt burden.
5. Conclusion
The current study offered a preliminary view of the potential factors influencing Malaysian civil
servants’ likelihood of being burdened by debts. The results exhibited that socioeconomic conditions
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©UiTM Press, Universiti Teknologi MARA
(income adequacy, financial status, and savings to income ratio) as the significant factors but not financial
literacy and financial behaviour. Thus, it shows that for the Malaysian civil servants facing issues on
income adequacies, financial status, and saving to income ratios will feel the debt burden. This provides a
piece of essential information to financial practitioners, as well as civil servants on the underlying factors
for their despair. It is imperative that policymakers, and the civil servant to carefully manage these factors
to avoid undesirable consequences of excessive debt burdens. As such, understanding an individual’s
financial problem could help in reducing the debt burden in the future. Current outstanding debts
incurred from Malaysian civil servants may pose a certain extent of financial stability risks in general, but
the broader socio-economic implications are of more concern and waiting to be resolved without any
further delay.
The Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia supported this research under the Fundamental Research
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This cross-sectional study aims to examine the retirement security of Malaysian civil servants. This study analyzed retirement literacy, attitude toward retirement, professional financial advice, and retirement behaviour in attaining retirement security. Self-administered questionnaires were utilized to survey Malaysian civil servants regarding their retirement security. A multi-stage random sampling method was used to draw a representative sample of Malaysian civil servants, and 361 completed self-administered questionnaires were received from 25 government departments in 5 regions: North, South, East, West and Sabah. The statistical analysis identifies Malaysian civil servants' vulnerability to unsecured retirement based on socioeconomic attributes and practices. It also analyzed the means and standard deviation for all items measuring retirement literacy, attitude toward retirement, professional financial advice, retirement behaviour and retirement security to gain a more profound understanding of the characteristics of the respondents. Abstrak Kajian rentas keratan ini bertujuan untuk mengkaji kesejahteraan persaraan penjawat awam Malaysia. Kajian ini menganalisis literasi persaraan, sikap terhadap persaraan, nasihat kewangan profesional, dan tingkah laku persaraan dalam mencapai kesejahteraan persaraan. Soal selidik telah digunakan untuk meninjau mengenai kesejahteraan persaraan penjawat awam Malaysia. Kaedah persampelan rawak pelbagai peringkat telah digunakan untuk mendapatkan sampel wakil penjawat awam Malaysia dan 361 soal selidik yang diisi dengan lengkap diterima daripada 25 jabatan kerajaan dari lima wilayah iaitu wilayah Utara, Selatan, Timur, Barat dan Sabah. Analisis statistik mengenal pasti kelemahan penjawat awam Malaysia terhadap A M A L A Y S I A J I L I D 1 , V O L 3 9 , D I S 2 0 2 3 persaraan berdasarkan ciri-ciri dan amalan sosio-ekonomi. Ia juga menganalisis sisihan piawai untuk semua perkara yang mengukur literasi persaraan, sikap terhadap persaraan, nasihat kewangan profesional, tingkah laku persaraan dan kesejahteraan persaraan untuk mendapatkan ciri pemahaman yang lebih mendalam mengenai responden.
... The survey also revealed that many Malaysians prefer to enjoy a good standard of living now rather than planning for their retirement, forfeiting the opportunity to take advantage of the time value of money on investments and inflation . Sabri et al (2019) found that civil servants with income sufficient for most needs are less likely to be in debt than those with insufficient income or income only sufficient for requirements. Government employees need to start saving. ...
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This research aims to determine the determinants of retirement security (RS) among Malaysian civil servants, identify the "inputs"-retirement literacy, retirement behaviour, and professional financial advice-and the "throughput"-attitudes toward retirement (ATR)-to reach the intended "outputs"-RS. Self-administered questionnaires were utilised to survey Malaysian civil servants regarding their RS. A multi-stage random sampling method was used to draw a representative sample of Malaysian civil servants and 361 completed self-administered questionnaires were received from 25 government departments in 5 regions: North, South, East, West and East Malaysia (Sabah). Covariance-Based Structural Equation Modelling statistically analysed data. With a R square of 0.42, the RS model explains 42% of retirement security variances. ATR and retirement behaviour significantly influence Malaysian civil servants' RS. Partial mediation was depicted in the influence of retirement behaviour; on RS, and full mediation was shown in the influence of retirement literacy and professional financial advice; on RS. This study could help policy-makers, government, and non-government organisations identify Malaysian civil servants' vulnerability to unsecured retirement based on socioeconomic attributes and practises. These agencies could design RS programmes for Malaysian civil servants based on retirement literacy, retirement behaviour, professional financial advice, and ATR levels.
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There is a great concern from researchers, government, and professional bodies about how consumers, households, students and employees manage their finances. A great number of people from both developed and developing countries are reported to be financially illiterate. Employees today are facing serious challenges in financial decision making that seems to emanate from the changes in financial markets and in social security pension schemes. They have access to financial literacy sessions at their workplaces yet this is not always reflected in the kind of lives they live. This provokes the question ‘does a more financially literate employee enjoy better financial wellbeing than a less literate person?’ The current study therefore seeks to critically review the literature to establish the documented relationship between financial literacy and financial wellbeing and possible intervening and moderating variables. The existing literature gaps are identified and recommended for further research. The results from the literature review indicate that financial literacy and financial wellbeing are defined and measured differently. Additionally, there seem to be a positive relationship between financial literacy and financial wellbeing but this relationship is intervened and moderated by financial decisions and demographic factors respectively.
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Asian household de continuously rise in recent years, including in Malaysia. This scenario might lead to a number of challenges in achieving the nation’s dream to have a high-income status. The lack of financial management and financial skills is the main reasons of debt problem. As both financial management and financial skills are parts of financial literacy, this study was conducted to investigate the level of understanding of financial literacy and the debt burden among Malay youth workers in Malaysia. Further, it adopts a qualitative methodology that involved semi-structured interviews. The findings show that Malay youth workers have a limited knowledge about shares (stocks). In addition, home loan is a major contributor for the debt burden among the youth workers.
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Doctors learn money management by trial and error and often realise the mistakes and shortfalls at later stages of life. This study measured the levels of personal financial management knowledge, attitude and practice of the medical practitioners in Malaysia and identified their financial management trends, strengths and weaknesses. In this cross sectional study, a pre-tested questionnaire was used to conduct face to face interviews with randomly selected medical specialist and medical officers through a multistage sampling. A total of 402 (urban 46.0%, rural 54.0%) medical practitioners completed the questionnaire. The majority of the respondents were Malays (54.5%), followed by Indians (25.6%), Chinese (16.7%) and other ethnicity (3.2%). Medical officers comprised 64.2% of the respondents and 35.8% were specialists. Although, 76.4% of the respondents had a positive attitude towards personal financial management, only 33.6% of them had high financial knowledge and 34.6% practiced positive money management. Retirement and estate planning practices are the most neglected area where only 3.8% respondents had high scores. Doctors are generally dissatisfied with their financial management skills. Specialists scored significantly higher (p=0.010) in financial knowledge in the areas of credit (p=0.004) and investment (p=0.029) than medical officers. Male practitioners are financially more knowledgeable (p=0.040) and skilled (p=0.001) than female practitioners. Specialists are better credit managers than medical officers (p=0.001) whereas the private medical practitioners are better risk managers than doctors practicing in public hospitals (p=0.025). Among the ethnic groups, the Chinese doctors had the most positive attitude (p=0.017) towards financial management. There is no difference in the financial management pattern between the medical practitioners practicing in the public and private sectors, or between the rural and urban regions. Financial knowledge scores correlated significantly with financial attitude (r=0.231, p=0.001) and financial practice scores (r=0.321, p=0.001) but not with financial satisfaction scores. In conclusion, this study found that overall the medical practitioners in Malaysia has positive financial management attitude, but poor in both financial knowledge and financial management practice. This study sets groundwork for future research and calls for a strong need for a financial education programme to help medical practitioners make informed decisions for greater financial satisfaction.
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This article shows that the debt burden of households, as measured by the debt- service-to-income ratio, is helpful in forecasting the future growth of consumer spending. Not only is the debt-service ratio a statistically significant predictor of future spending growth, but it also explains about as much of the variation in spending growth as many other commonly used indicators such as consumer sentiment and income growth. And when combined with other economic indicators, the debt-service ratio still provides significant incremental predictive power. I conclude that the debt-service ratio is an important indicator to consider when forecasting consumer spending. The debt-service ratio predicts future spending growth in part because it helps predict future income growth for borrowing-constrained households, and in part because it directly affects spending growth. I argue that this direct effect reflects tightening of lending standards by financial institutions in response to a rise in the debt burden of households. Because this direct effect is important for spending on durable goods and services but virtually nonexistent for spending on nondurable goods, my results are consistent with the view that borrowing- constrained households will limit primarily their discretionary purchases when faced with a tightening of credit.
Works in behavioural economics have made an important contribution in drawing attention to the role played not only by socio-demographic and economic variables, but also by behavioural factors as determinants of the demand for debt. As explained in Chapter 2, empirical analyses show that household debt demand seems less rational but more driven by emotional factors, such as overconfidence, impulsivity in consumption attitudes, social comparison and myopia; that is, the inability to perceive the long run consequences of today’s debt decisions. Such behavioural factors may induce individuals to make ‘non-rational’ borrowing choices and this may lead them to hold a level of debt that is unsustainable in relation to their earnings. In turn, such a situation may cause over-indebtedness.
Data from an economically and racially diverse sample (N = 258) was used to determine (a) if an association between objectively measured income and perceived income adequacy exists, (b) how well individuals assess the adequacy of their income, and (c) if a bias exists, can these estimates be used to describe a person’s overall level of financial satisfaction? Duesenberry’s (Income, saving, and the theory of consumer behavior. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1949) relative income hypothesis and Kyrk’s (The family in the American economy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1953) resource deficit hypothesis were adopted for use as the conceptual framework for this study. A positive but modest association between objective and perceived income adequacy was noted. It was also found that individuals do not do a particularly good job of accurately assessing their income adequacy. Finally, perceived income adequacy estimation bias was found to be associated with financial satisfaction. Those who perceived their income to be deficient were less satisfied financially. Policy and practitioner implications from the study are discussed as a means for improving financial satisfaction at the individual and household level.
Household financial debt in America has risen dramatically in recent years. While there is evidence that debt is associated with adverse psychological health, its relationship with other health outcomes is relatively unknown. We investigate the associations of multiple indices of financial debt with psychological and general health outcomes among 8400 young adult respondents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Our findings show that reporting high financial debt relative to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure. These associations remain significant when controlling for prior socioeconomic status, psychological and physical health, and other demographic factors. The results suggest that debt is an important socioeconomic determinant of health that should be explored further in social epidemiology research.
In the early 1950s, Franco Modigliani and his student Richard Brumberg worked out a theory of spending based on the idea that people make intelligent choices about how much they want to spend at each age, limited only by the resources available over their lives. By building up and running down assets, working people can make provision for their retirement, and more generally, tailor their consumption patterns to their needs at different ages, independently of their incomes at each age. This simple theory leads to important and non-obvious predictions about the economy as a whole, that national saving depends on the rate of growth of national income, not its level, and that the level of wealth in the economy bears a simple relation to the length of the retirement span. These predictions, which were untestable in the 1950s, have received empirical support in later work by Modigliani and other researchers. While there have been many challenges to the theory of consumption through the years, most recently from a coalition of psychologists and economists, the life-cycle hypothesis remains an essential part of economists' thinking. Without it, we would have much less to say about many important issues, such as the private and public provision of social security, the effects of the stock market on the economy, the effects of demographic change on national saving, the role of saving in economic growth, and the determinants of national wealth.