Introducing compulsory financial education in UK schools could make Britons wealthier by their late 40s, says new report commissioned by Norwich Union.

The report was written by ippr trading – the consultancy arm of the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) – and refers to research from the US that found compulsory financial education for school children can lead to people being, on average, richer by a year’s earnings between the ages of 35 and 49.

When the data is applied to the UK this could mean that a couple with two children aged five and 11 could be better off by about GBP32,000, a couple with no children could be better off by about GBP22,000 and a single person with no children could be better off by about GBP13,000.

The study also found that the most common reasons for not engaging in financial planning are complexity, lack of low-cost advice and the desire for short-term gain over long term security.

A better understanding of why people act as they do is crucial if the financial services industry and government are to engage consumers more effectively. We need to help motivate people to overcome their inertia and enable them to take greater personal responsibility for their finances, said David Barral, distribution director, Norwich Union.