The Center for Social Development (CSD) hosted a seminar this month for social workers and others from South Korea, part of a larger training program focused on developing financial capability for Korean youth.
The group, organized by Dong-Ho Jang, professor of social welfare at Namseoul University, were familiar with CSD’s research and had worked with Brown School alumni Professor Chang-Keun Han and Sung-Suk Song. The group included the director of Jeonnam Provincial Center for Self-Sufficiency, and the director of the Korea Association of Social Workers.
The three-hour October 18 seminar featured a welcome by Mary McKay, dean of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, and remarks about youth and asset building from Michael Sherraden, director of CSD.
Sherraden noted South Korea’s adoption of Child Development Accounts (CDAs) and said, “South Korea has been steady in working toward solutions that are effective.” He noted that the challenge of how asset-building policies fit with other social policies is an important issue.
“Traditional social policy has emphasized income support,” he said. “This policy was designed for the industrial era and is based on the idea that families without sufficient income from industrial labor markets should get some support. The purpose is to maintain a basic level of consumption.” Sherraden observed that “asset building is a somewhat different concept, more about family development. Families should also be able to accumulate assets so they can make investments in their future,” he said. He encouraged the group to consider Singapore’s policy model, which is based almost entirely on asset accumulation.
Noting the promise of CDAs for all children, Sherraden said, “We think about CDAs not as a policy to help the poor but as policy that can serve the whole society over the long term.”
The seminar was organized by Li Zou, CSD’s international director.
Professor Dong-Ho Jang proposed the seminar to Michael Sherraden. “Asset shortages and mounting debts weigh heavily upon people’s financial and psychological well-being,” he wrote. “This problem is particularly severe for young people, many of whom struggle with the burden of student loans and private loans from expensive moneylenders. … [T]hey have difficulty saving and accumulating assets and often give up on their life goals.”
The group also visited the City of St. Louis Office of the Treasurer, which has initiated college savings for children in St. Louis Public Schools, and Beyond Housing to learn about its CDA initiative and other financial services.
During the seminar at CSD, Sherraden told the group: “We’re very glad to be doing this work with you. We’re delighted to have you as a partner.”