In the 21st century the world is highly financialized, and income alone is not a sufficient support for millions of households. All people require access to safe financial products and services as well as sound financial knowledge. In addition, all families should be able to accumulate assets for their security and long-term development. Since its inception, CSD has served as a leading center for research on ways to enhance the financial security and development of families in the United States and around the world.
At CSD, financial inclusion projects fall into four categories: Asset Building in the United States, Global Asset Building, Financial Capability, and Financial Behaviors.
Asset Building in the United States
The center defines assets as accumulated resources invested for social and economic development. These investments can be in human or social capital, such as education, or tangible assets, such as homeownership, small business development and retirement savings. (See also frequently asked questions and Encyclopedia of Social Work). CSD informs inclusive asset-building policy strategies such as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), Child Development Accounts (CDAs) and progressive 529 college savings plans by designing, implementing, and studying large-scale demonstrations including the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD), SEED National Initiative, and SEED for Oklahoma Kids.
Global Asset Building
The Center for Social Development is committed to creating opportunities for low- and moderate-income households throughout the world to build assets. The goal of “an account for every child on the planet,” first articulated by CSD, appears in a growing number of international policy agendas. Our work informs asset-building policies and programs worldwide through testing their effectiveness, creating networks of scholars and policymakers, building the global knowledge base, and hosting convenings.
The Center for Social Development is actively engaged in building a body of evidence in financial capability, defined as both the knowledge to make optimal financial decisions and access to appropriate and beneficial financial services. We focus on financial capability across the life cycle and the inclusion of all individuals. A key focus is to reintroduce financial well-being into social work education and practice. The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) selected “build financial capability and assets for all” as one of social work’s 12 Grand Challenges
The center’s work in Financial Behaviors currently focuses on two major research studies. Refund to Savings (R2S) builds saving-behavior experiments into Intuit’s TurboTax Free File Online product, which is available to low- and moderate-income households. A second major study in financial behaviors is the Employee Financial Wellness Programs project, which will evaluate the impact of employer-based financial wellness programs.