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La inclusión y educación financiera en América Latina: oportunidades y desafíos

*Diana Mejía, experta en inclusión financiera de CAF –banco de desarrollo de América Latina

En las últimas dos décadas se ha hecho mucho énfasis en la importancia de la inclusión financiera para el desarrollo de los países, es decir, cómo el acceso, el uso y la calidad de los productos financieros impactan en el bienestar de familias y empresas.

No fue sino hasta principios de la década del 2000 cuando el tema del acceso a servicios financieros empezó a tener una enorme relevancia como objetivo común en las agendas de los países que conforman el G20, gobiernos, ministerios de hacienda, organismos internacionales y bancos centrales, entre otros.

Las razones se pueden resumir en las siguientes:

  • la aparición de una serie de estudios que muestran la alta correlación existente entre la pobreza y la exclusión del sector financiero formal,
  • la aparición de una serie de estudios que muestran la alta correlación existente entre la pobreza y la exclusión del sector financiero formal,
  • la preocupación de los organismos encargados de la estabilidad financiera al considerar que algunos tipos de inclusión financiera pueden convertirse en una fuente de inestabilidad
  • la banca tradicional comenzó a ver este tema como un nicho para expandir sus negocios.

Es entonces cuando el problema del acceso a los servicios financieros comienza a recogerse en un concepto más amplio y multidimensional: la inclusión financiera.

América Latina ha logrado avances muy importantes en este terreno, como lo refleja el aumento sostenido en indicadores de oferta como el número de sucursales y corresponsales bancarios, número de cuentas en instituciones financieras formales, cantidad de cajeros electrónicos, entre otros. No obstante, el uso de estos productos y servicios financieros continúa siendo limitado, en parte debido al  bajo nivel de educación financiera de la población, tal como lo evidencian los resultados de las encuestas de medición de capacidades financieras realizadas por CAF –banco de desarrollo de América Latina- en varios países de la región como Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú y próximamente Paraguay. Estas encuestas tienen como objetivo realizar un diagnóstico que permita identificar los conocimientos, habilidades, actitudes y comportamientos de los individuos con relación a los temas financieros.

La globalización y los avances tecnológicos de los últimos años han complejizado y multiplicado el número de productos y servicios financieros disponibles, aumentando la necesidad de que los ciudadanos tengan un conocimiento que les permita tomar buenas decisiones económicas y financieras.

Una de las lecciones más relevantes que se puede extraer de la crisis financiera internacional de 2008 es el desconocimiento y desinformación de gran parte de la población sobre temas básicos en economía y finanzas, lo cual limita su capacidad para tomar decisiones responsables, conscientes y competentes. Para CAF, la educación financiera es crítica para la inclusión, pues no solo facilita el uso efectivo de los productos financieros, sino que también ayuda a que las personas desarrollen las habilidades para comparar y seleccionar aquellos que mejor se adaptan a sus necesidades y posibilidades.

Como vemos en la Tabla 1, existen diferencias importantes por países en cuanto al nivel de educación financiera. Por ejemplo, Argentina muestra el índice más bajo de educación financiera, ubicándose en el último lugar en conocimiento, actitudes y comportamiento financiero. Por otro lado Chile aparece en el primer lugar del ranking empujado fundamentalmente por un alto nivel del indicador de comportamiento.

tabla 1

La información sobre educación financiera se puede desagregar por características sociodemográficas de las familias,  particularmente de género, ámbito geográfico, nivel educativo y de ingresos. Con relación a  género (gráfico 1), es interesante notar que, a excepción de Argentina, Bolivia y Chile que muestran brechas de género reducidas (entre 1 y 3 puntos porcentuales), en los demás países se evidencian brechas mucho más amplias que oscilan entre los 5 puntos porcentuales en el caso de Ecuador a los 11 puntos porcentuales, como es el caso del Perú.  Con respecto al ámbito geográfico (gráfico 2), se observa una marcada diferencia en las capacidades financieras entre los pobladores urbanos y los rurales en todos los 6 países. Finalmente, en la mayoría de los aspectos estudiados, la educación y los niveles de ingreso marcan las diferencias más importantes (ver gráfico 3 y 4).

Fuente: encuestas de capacidades financieras CAF http://scioteca.caf.com/handle/123456789/740

 

Estos resultados permiten identificar importantes implicaciones de política pública:

  1. Es importante establecer estrategias diferenciadas para diferentes segmentos poblaciones, dentro de los cuales evidencian menores capacidades financieras: las personas con niveles limitados de educación; las personas con ingresos bajos; las personas sin ingresos regulares; los residentes en zonas rurales; las mujeres; los jóvenes; las personas mayores; y quienes no tienen capacidad de ahorro.
  2. La capacidad de ahorro, especialmente a través de mecanismos formales como cuentas de ahorro, tiene un impacto muy importante sobre las capacidades financieras de los individuos.
  3. Las diferencias de género no afectan a todas las mujeres por igual, sino que aquellas que son jefes del hogar muestran mejores actitudes y conductas financieras.
  4. Los receptores de transferencias o subvenciones por parte del gobierno tienen peores resultados en el índice de conceptos y conocimientos y muestran actitudes contrarias al ahorro.

Esta información constituye un valioso aporte para los hacedores de políticas públicas y sirven de línea de base para la implementación de programas de educación financiera que redunden en mejores decisiones financieras por parte de la población y, por tanto, en impactos positivos en su bienestar.

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