Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Tribal Innovations in Children’s Accounts

An important frontier in savings policy and research is the effectiveness of accounts at birth. This paper presents ideas and initial findings from the experience of American Indian nations—America’s first asset-builders—with such policies. It describes the motivations for creating “minors’ accounts,” which are offered by approximately 70 tribes. These tribes are the only jurisdictions in the nation to offer universal, unrestricted accounts for children. Increasingly, they also are using conditions and incentives to promote their policy goals. Their experiences and ideas offer important insights for mainstream policy makers and program managers (in the US and elsewhere) about how to design effective children’s accounts policy. The paper closes by stressing a two-way flow of information, as ideas from experience and research in non-tribal communities offer new ways to strengthen tribal minors’ account policies and further their welfare enhancing goals.

This paper was presented during Child Development Accounts: Research and Policy Symposium, a November 2008 conference, and was developed for publication in Child Development Accounts: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Potential, a special issue of Children and Youth Services Review. Released in November 2010, the special issue was edited by Michael Sharraden, Youngmi Kim, and Vernon Loke.

Subsequent publication: Jorgensen, M., & Morris, P. (2010). Tribal experience with children’s accounts. Children & Youth Services Review, 32(11), 1528–1537. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.03.017

Project: Native Assets


Jorgensen, M. (with Morris, P.). (2009). Tribal innovations in children’s accounts (CSD Working Paper No. 09-47). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.