Family Financial Socialization: Theory and Critical Review

Clinton G. Gudmunson, Sharon M. Danes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Financial literacy research of the past 40 years (1970-2010) has largely ignored the reasons for sociodemographic differences in financial outcomes. The primary purpose of this paper is to initiate a theoretical discussion regarding family financial socialization-what it is; why it is important; and how its tenets could help advance understanding of individual differences in financial literacy. To this end, we propose a conceptual model that integrates family socialization theory and recent trends in financial literacy research. The study concludes with an interdisciplinary critical review of 100 articles which provide illustrations, highlight gaps, and present opportunities for further research with many practical guidelines for advancing deeper understanding of financial literacy from a socialization perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-667
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Sharon M. Danes is a Professor in the Family Social Science Department at the University of Minnesota. She has authored over 160 refereed research articles, book chapters, and outreach publications emphasizing the intersection of economic and social decision-making. Her PhD is in family economics from Iowa State University. She has received over $1,050,000 of research and educational grants in recent years; the most recent grant from NSF. She is Past-President of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. She serves on several editorial boards of research journals.


  • Family relationships
  • Financial attitudes
  • Financial literacy
  • Financial socialization
  • Socialization theory

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