Prepared by Robyn Dupuis, July 2009
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Robyn Denson (formerly Dupuis) is Director of Development, Iowa Association of Business Industries and Foundation. She has over 15 years professional experience in the public policy and non-profit fields. Previous to her 2009 Ian Axford Fellowship, which focused on how to help individuals achieve financial well-being, Denson served the Washington State House of Representatives as the State Housing Policy Analyst. In addition to researching, drafting and advising members and the public on legislation addressing housing, Robyn also dealt with land use and financial literacy/management issues. Robyn is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has also studied at the University of Florida and Universidad de Yucatan (Mexico).
During Robyn’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand she was based at the Retirement Commission in Wellington, where she researched the influence of identity on financial behaviours.
The field of behavioural economics suggests that utilizing what is known about how ‘real people’ make financial decisions can augment financial education initiatives and contribute to increased financial well being amongst a population. The effect of the behavioural norms and implied assumptions associated with different group identity categories with which a person associates on a person’s financial behaviour and performance is a key emerging area of interest.
This paper describes how an identity-based strategy can identify and make more salient the specific components of a group’s identity that are most likely to be supportive of positive financial behaviours and outcomes to improve the overall effect of a person’s identity on their level of financial well being. Qualitative findings of this research, which utilizes the well-recognized folk ‘Kiwi’ identity as an example, suggest that making salient the components of the ‘Kiwi’ identity which are most aligned with positive financial behaviours and performance (the most ‘Sorted-supportive’ components) may result in increased ‘normalization’ of desirable financial behaviours and may empower New Zealanders to achieve financial well being by increasing their sense that ‘being Sorted’ is simply part of ‘being Kiwi.’
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