This study investigates whether participants’ program knowledge is associated with savings outcomes in Child Development Accounts and whether differences in program knowledge explain racial and ethnic disparities in savings outcomes. Analyses of data collected from treatment participants in the SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) experiment (N = 1,39) indicate that knowledge of SEED OK program features is low: on average, participants are aware of 1.24 of three features, and averages are lower among Blacks and Hispanics. Logit and Tobit regressions show that program knowledge is positively related to likelihood of holding a SEED OK participant-owned account and to individual savings amounts. Program knowledge is estimated to contribute to racial disparities in savings outcomes: if Whites and minorities had the same levels of program knowledge, gaps in savings outcomes would significantly decline. These findings challenge the assumption, based in neoclassical economics, that individuals participate in savings programs if benefits from incentives outweigh costs of participation. Findings call for the development of policy designs and communication tools to enhance knowledge of program features among participants, especially members of racial and ethnic minorities.
Subsequent publication: Nam, Y., Hole, E., Sherraden, M., & Clancy, M. M. (2018). Program knowledge and racial disparities in savings outcomes in a Child Development Account experiment. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 39(1), 145–162. doi:10.1007/s10834-017-9544-5
Project: SEED for Oklahoma Kids