Attitudes toward Credit and Finances among College Students in Brazil and the United States

Jill M. Norvilitis, Wesley Mendes-Da-Silva


Although research on credit card debt in developed countries has identified predictors of debt among college students, it is unknown whether these same predictors apply in emerging markets, such as Brazil. To examine this issue, a total of 1257 college students, 814 from Brazil and 443 from the United States, participated in a study exploring the utility of a theory of planned behavior as a predictor of credit card debtand student loans among college students, as well as perceived financial well-being. Compared to the Brazilian participants, the American sample was more financially self-confident, reported better financial well-being, and was more likely to believe that credit cards are negative. Similar predictors of financial well-being emerged in the samples. Specifically, parenting practices related to money and better self-reported delay of gratification are related to more positive financial attitudes and lower levels of debt. Although the debt to income ratio among card holders was similar, Brazilian students held more credit cards than American students. Greater delay of gratification was related to lower levels of student loans in the United States, but there were no significant predictors of student loans in Brazil.

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