Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to empirically explore the financial well-being (FWB) of Malaysian households and to construct a subjective FWB index with present and future time perspectives.
Design/methodology/approach - Data were collected from 1,867 respondents across five major regions in Malaysia. Adapting the InCharge Financial Distress/Financial Well-being (IFDFW) Scale by Prawitz et al. (2006) and the method of computing an index by Devlin (2009), this study develops an FWB index using subjective measures that include future time perspectives (retirement). The index was employed to measure the FWB across low-, middle- and high-income groups and socio-demographic characteristics.
Findings - This study finds evidence that Malaysians' FWB is at an average level (46.8). Middle-income households' FWB (46.1) flanks between the financial well-being index (FWBI) levels of the low-income (37.4) and high-income households (58.7). Across age groups, education levels and employment sectors, the FWB of Malaysians significantly varies, although not across different ethnics, religions, zones and residential areas. Overall, the results suggest that the detrimental effects of FWB are perceived by all Malaysian households nationwide regardless of their religion, ethnicity and residential areas.
Practical implications - The results of this study complement the other well-being indices used by policymakers and may serve as a useful input for government and policymakers for them to formulate appropriate strategies to promote higher FWB of Malaysian households based on their socio-demographic characteristics.
Originality/value - This study used primary data and developed a subjective FWB index that leverages on people's perceptions of their own financial well-being while including present and future time perspectives. The main contribution of this paper is to construct an index that is easily interpretable and that complements the existing FWB indices, and to identify the segments of society that have low vis-à-vis high FWB.
Malaysia, Household income, Index, Households, Financial well-being, Subjective measurement