Asset Building Financial Inclusion Working Paper

Are Child Development Accounts Inclusive? Early Evidence From a Statewide Experiment

A key objective of Child Development Accounts (CDAs) is to increase college completion rates among disadvantaged youth by helping families accumulate assets for college and by encouraging youth to see themselves as college bound. While the major asset-building programs in the United States largely benefit socioeconomically advantaged individuals, CDAs explicitly aim to facilitate account holding and asset accumulation by disadvantaged families. But do CDAs meet the goal of being inclusive? This research uses data from a large CDA experiment with probability sampling and random assignment to examine early CDA savings outcomes. Findings indicate that the CDA improves outcomes for several demographic groups and has a greater impact on some disadvantaged groups than on their advantaged counterparts. Features like automatic account opening and automatic initial deposits, which are uncommon in other asset-building programs, extend the opportunities and benefits of asset accumulation to disadvantaged families.

Citation

Beverly, S. G., Kim, Y., Sherraden, M., Nam, Y., & Clancy, M. (2014). Are Child Development Accounts inclusive? Early evidence from a statewide experiment (CSD Working Paper No. 12-30). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.