In an assessment of 15-year-olds' financial literacy, more than a fifth of Italian teens tested failed to reach the most basic level set by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).
A total of 21.7 percent of the Italian students quizzed could, at best, make only simple financial decisions and recognize the difference between needs and wants. The figure was markedly higher than the OECD average of 15.3 percent.
The organization's first financial literacy assessment of students, based on tests completed in 2012, aims to assess whether young people have the necessary knowledge to enter the world of work or higher education.
Of the 18 countries ranked Italy came in 17th place, with an average score of 466. Italian teens were beaten by their Spanish counterparts, who came in 13th place with an average score of 484, and France at number 11 with 486.
The top spot was taken by China, whose financially-savvy teens boasted an impressive average of 603 points. The most money-aware 15-year-olds in Europe can be found in Belgium, with the Flemish community taking the second spot in the OECD rankings.
Within the country, the organization reported significant regional differences characterized by a north-south divide. Five Italian regions in the north scored higher than the France average, with Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia coming top with 501 points. At the other end of the scale came Italy's poorer region, the worst being Calabria, with an average of 415 points, below Sicily (429) and Campania (439).