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How good are your numeracy skills?

On this past weekend's Marketplace Money show, reporter Janet Babin took a deeper look at the results of a new study from the Rand Corporation. The study asked couples three simple math questions, and those couples who answered all of them correctly averaged $1.7 million of family wealth. Couples who got all the questions wrong averaged only $200,000. The study concluded that at least one person in a couple should have great math skills to better handle family finances.

Think you got the financing chops? The Rand Corporation sent us the questions they used:

(1) If the chance of getting a disease is 10 percent, how many people out of 1,000 would be expected to get the disease?

(2) If 5 people all have the winning numbers in the lottery and the prize is $2 million, how much will each of them get?

(3) Let's say you have $200 in a savings account. The account earns 10 percent interest per year. How much would you have in the account at the end of two years?

Answers after the jump.





















1) 100 people. 2) $400,000. 3) $242.

How well did you do?

About the author

Chau Tu is the former assistant web producer for Marketplace.
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I did get these simple questions correct with just mental calculations. I was not a good student in any subject, including math of all kinds, through all my 16 years of school. I was so bad a student my parents, in frustration, sent me to about 5-6 years of summer school that they could barely afford. I have watched shows on TV where, in discussing personal debt 4-5 people will be interviewed, I watch these shows in amazement and tell my wife that not one of those people were nearly as bad a student as I was at any point in their life. My guess is that people live life in boxes, one is school life which should never be brought into the box of work life. Only professionals, in professions where they are employed in their field of study, bring school life to work life.

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