Children given lessons in personal finance and household budgeting could be up to pound;32,000 richer by the time they reach their 40s, according to a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research.
The left-leaning think-tank examined a programme in the US, where financial education has been compulsory in some areas since 1957.
Researchers found that children who received these financial literacy classes were better off than their peers when they grew up. By the time they reached the ages of 35-49 they were about a year's worth of earnings ahead of their peers who did not receive the lessons. They also saved around 1.5 per cent more of their income each year.
Miranda Lewis, senior research fellow at IPPR, said: "It pays to get clued up. Lessons that teach young people the basics of personal finance, like how to calculate interest, household budgeting and understanding mortgages, can help them make the right financial decisions later in life and avoid debt problems.
"The evidence from America shows that financial education can pay real dividends with some people being better off by up to pound;32,000."
The study said a couple with two children aged five and 11 could benefit by about pound;32,000.
And a single person with no children could benefit from financial education to the tune of about pound;13,000, the IPPR said.
Next month, new lesson materials covering how to look after money will be available to schools for use in personal, social and health education as well as citizenship classes.
From September 2010, children will learn basic skills in managing finances as part of reformed compulsory maths GCSE.
Teenagers can get lessons in how to avoid getting into debt, apply for a mortgage and the importance of pensions, as part of efforts to improve financial literacy in a programme devised by the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. It also covers planning a wedding, the cost of bringing up children, how to make a will and the pros and cons of investing in the stock market.
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