Since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2007, the lack of monetary knowledge among children and adolescents has been increasingly lamented and the reputed economic immaturity of many young people identified as a problem. A wide range of interest groups operate in the field of Financial Literacy who are striving to influence education in schools and in the home. In addition to banks and building societies, these include consumer groups, schools and parents.
The twentieth century has witnessed a transformation in individual perceptions of the definition of Financial Literacy. This project is based on the hypothesis that the exclusively bourgeois value of frugality, which dominated the nineteenth century, was superseded in the early twentieth century by an all-encompassing notion of frugality as ‘sensible financial behaviour’ by everyone – including children and young people of the working classes. This prevailed until the 1980s when, according to the supposition, a new model emerged. Monetary procedures that had previously been considered part of the adult sphere, such as investment transactions, business management and market speculation became an element of the economic subjectification of children and adolescents. Institutions such as market research facilities and consumer advisors were significant contributors to early Financial Literacy discourse, and they defined and popularised the field of economic knowledge. In parallel to the changes in procedure and ideology surrounding money, concepts emanated of what a child should be and which children – girls or boys, working or middle class – should learn about which financial aspects. The project therefore combines a historical perspective of Financial Literacy with the history of childhood and adolescence.