Asset Building Books & Chapters

Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy

In this groundbreaking book, Michael Sherraden detailed a proposal to support the development of families and communities through a policy of asset building.


Assets and the Poor is a provocative book and will likely stimulate new debate on the crucial issue of welfare policy.

Review by Edward N. Wolff
ILR Review

Sherraden’s proposal is imaginative, and hence it deserves to be kept alive in the debate over welfare policies. For at some time, perhaps in the near future, there may come a new effort to do something about the poor. The ideas in this book offer some stimulating proposals for this future effort, and, for this reason, it marks an important contribution to the literature on inequality, poverty, and welfare policy.

Review by Jonathan H. Turner
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

Sherraden defends the importance of assets with a melange of ideas drawn from the social and behavior sciences; and a number of his arguments are both arresting and intuitively sensible.

His proposal has a lot of intuitive appeal. At the least, it’s a fresh, intelligent, thoughtful approach to a persistent problem that policy makers have tried unsuccessfully to solve for the last couple of centuries. For this reason alone, it merits careful attention.

Review by Michael B. Katz
Political Science Quarterly

Sherraden’s proposals are bold and imaginative; implementation of them would indeed transform public welfare policy.

My own view is that Sherraden is on to something.… If this is so, proposals designed to confer asset holdings—‘stakes’—on those with none are worthy of serious consideration, experimentation, and evaluation.

Assets and the Poor challenges us with a new vision of a savings- and growth-oriented welfare state.

Review by Robert H. Haveman
Journal of Economic Literature


Sherraden, M. (1991). Assets and the poor: A new American welfare policy. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.