Articles & Special Issues Asset Building Financial Inclusion

Can Child Development Accounts Be 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 almost exclusively benefit socioeconomically advantaged individuals, CDAs explicitly aim to facilitate account holding and asset accumulation by disadvantaged families. But can 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 savings outcomes. Findings indicate that CDAs improve outcomes for diverse demographic groups and sometimes have greater impacts on disadvantaged children than on advantaged children. 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. (2015). Can Child Development Accounts be inclusive? Early evidence from a statewide experiment. Children and Youth Services Review, 53, 92–104. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.03.003