Welfare Based on Assets, a Way to Smooth Out Economic Instability and Develop Children's Human Capital is a four-part series of reports that focuses on the relationship between economic instability (i.e., income shocks, asset shocks, home loss, and asset poverty) and children's human capital development. Collectively, these reports build on the compelling observation that the pattern low-income families walk into is a present time oriented or consumption based pattern of behavior; in contrast, the pattern higher income families walk into is future oriented or asset based. In this first paper we find that between 2005 and 2009 the probability of a low-income child living through an income shock is between 43% (major shock) and 55% (minor shock). In contrast, the chance of a high-income child experiencing an income shock is between 6% (major shock) and 15% (minor shock) during the same period. We also find that the probability that a child will experience a net worth asset shock close to doubles for a child living in a black or low-incom
Elliott, W., Nam, I., and Friedline, T. (2013). Probability of living through a period of economic instability. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), p. 453-460.
This is paper four of four in the Small-Dollar Children's Savings Account series, which studies the relationship between children's small-dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation. This series of papers examines three important research questions using different subsamples: (a) Are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college? (b) Does dosage (i.e., having no account, only basic savings, savings designated for school [of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more]) matte? And (c) is having savings designated for school more predictive than having basic savings alone? In this study we use a sample of children who expect to graduate college prior to leaving high school as a way of looking at wilt. In this study “wilt” occurs when a child who expects to graduate from college while in high school does not graduate college by 2009. Using propensity score weighted data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements we created multi-treatment dosages of savings accounts and amounts to answer the previous questions. We find that in the aggregate children who expect to graduate college prior to leaving high school (high-expectation children) and who designate savings for school of $500 or more are about two times more likely to graduate college than high-expectation children with no account. High-expectation low- and moderate-income (LMI) children who designate school savings of $1 to $499 and $500 or more are about three times more likely to graduate college than LMI children with no account. Further, high-expectation black children who have school savings of $500 or more are about two and half times more likely to graduate from college than their counterparts with no savings account.
Elliott, W., Song, H-a, and Nam, I. (2013). Small-dollar accounts, children's college outcomes and wilt. Children and Youth Services Review, 35 (3), p. 535-547.
This is paper two of four in the small-dollar children's savings account series in this issue that examines the relationship between children's small-dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation. This series of papers uses different subsamples to examine three important research questions: (a) Are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college; (b) Does dose (no account, only basic savings, savings designated for school of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more) matter; and (c) Is designating savings for school more predictive than having basic savings alone. Using propensity score weighted data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its supplements we created multi-treatment doses of savings accounts and amounts to answer these questions separately for children from low- and moderate-income (below $50,000; n = 512) and high income ($50,000 or above; n = 345) households. We find that low- and moderate-income children may be more likely to enroll in and graduate from college when they have small-dollar savings accounts with money designated for school. A low- and moderate-income child who has school savings of $1 to $499 prior to reaching college age is over three times more likely to enroll in college and four times more likely to graduate from college than a child with no savings account. These findings lead to policy implications that are also discussed.
Elliott, W., Song, H-a, and Nam, I. (2013). Small-dollar children’s saving accounts and children's college outcomes by income level. Children and Youth Services Review, 35 (3), p. 560-571.
This is paper one of four in the small-dollar children's savings account series, which, studies the relationship between children's small-dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation. This series of papers uses different subsamples to examine three important research questions: (a) are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college? (b) does dose (i.e., having no account, only basic savings, savings designated for school [of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more]) matter? and (c) is having savings designated for school more predictive than having basic savings alone? Paper one of this series uses aggregate data from the newest wave of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and its supplements. Propensity score weighted findings suggest that children who have a small amount of money (e.g., less than $1 or $1 to $499) designated for school are 3 times and 2.5 times more likely, respectively, to enroll in and graduate from college, respectively, than children with no account. Findings also show that having savings designated for school might have a stronger effect on relationship with children's college outcomes than having basic savings that can be used for any purpose. The paper concludes by explaining how policies that create national children's savings programs might help cue a psychological process in which children form an identities as college-savers.
Elliott, W. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and children's college outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 35 (3), p. 572-585.
This is paper three of four in the Small-Dollar Children Accounts series that studies the relationship between children's small dollar savings accounts and college enrollment and graduation. The series uses different subsamples to examine three important research questions: (a) Are children with savings of their own more likely to attend or graduate from college? (b) Does dosage (no account, only basic savings, savings designated for school of less than $1, $1 to $499, or $500 or more) matter? And (c) is designating for school more predictive of college enrollment or graduation than having basic undesignated savings alone? Using propensity score weighted data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its supplements we created multi-treatment dosages of savings accounts and amounts to answer these questions separately for black (n = 404) and white (n = 453) children. White children's savings are not significantly related to their college outcomes. Differently, compared to black children without savings accounts, black children are three times more likely to enroll in college when they have school savings of less than $1 and six times more likely when they have school savings of $1 to $499. Further, black children with school savings of $1 to $499 are four times more likely to graduate from college and black children with school savings of $500 or more are three-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college, compared to those with no savings account. We suggest Child Development Accounts (CDAs) may be a promising tool for helping black children get to and through college.
Freidline, T., Elliott, W., and Nam, I. (2013). Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and children's college outcomes by race. Children and Youth Services Review, 35 (3), p. 548-559.
A major hypothesis of asset-building is that early access to savings accounts leads to continued and improved educational and economic outcomes over time. This study asks whether or not young adults (ages 18-22) in 2007, particularly among lower income households, are significantly more likely to own savings accounts and to accumulate more savings when they have access to savings accounts at banking institutions as adolescents (ages 13-17) in 2002. We investigate this question using longitudinal data (low-to-moderate income sample [LMI; N = 530]; low-income sample [LI; N = 354]) from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and its supplements. Results from propensity score weighting and bivariate probit estimates support this hypothesis. Asset-building policies that extend early access to savings accounts may improve savings outcomes for young people from lower income households, which hopefully affords them with the economic resources needed to lead productive and satisfying lives.
Friedline, T., Elliott, W., and Chowa, G. (2013). Testing an asset-building approach for young people: Early access to savings predicts later savings. Economics of Education Review, 33(1), pp. 31-51.
This is the first study to examine whether parents’ college savings is positively associated with enrollment in postsecondary education of students in special education programs. In addition to examining postsecondary school enrollment among students with disabilities, we also examine whether students’ and parents’ college expectations act as a mediator between parents’ college savings and postsecondary school enrollment. We find that while not all types of college savings are associated with postsecondary enrollment, college bonds are a consistent and strong statistically significant predictor of postsecondary enrollment of students with disabilities. Further, we find evidence that students’ and parents’ college expectations act as a partial mediator between college bonds and enrollment in postsecondary school.
Cheatham, G. and Elliott, W. (2013). The effects of college savings on postsecondary school enrollment rates of students with disabilities. Economics of Education Review, 33(1), pp. 95-111.
Welfare Based on Assets, a Way to Smooth Out Economic Instability and Develop Children's Human Capital is a four-part series of papers that focuses on the relationship between economic instability (i.e., income shocks, asset shocks, home loss, and asset poverty) and children's human capital development. Collectively, these reports build on the compelling observation that the pattern low-income families walk into is a present time oriented or consumption based pattern of behavior; in contrast, the pattern higher income families walk into is future oriented or asset based. In the third paper we find in most cases income shocks and asset shocks do not appear to be harmful to children's educational outcomes. However, children living in liquid and net worth asset poor families have lower academic achievement scores, high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, and college graduation rates than children living in families that are asset sufficient. Overall, findings can be interpreted as suggesting that a bifurcated welfare system, with income-based programs for poor families and asset-based programs for higher income families, may provide higher income families with an educational advantage over low-income families and might ultimately help exacerbate educational inequalities in America.
Elliott, W. (2013). The effects of economic instability on children’s educational outcomes. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), p. 461-471.
This article focuses on unifying, seemingly at times, disparate aspects of school-related Child Development Account (CDA) programs in order to maximize their effects. Account ownership and financial education are the two key components of school-related CDA programs. Despite this most of the focus by asset theorists and researchers has been on the account ownership side of CDAs. To unify these two components we use identity-based motivation (IBM) theory. Further, we suggest that early experience with money failures and lack of positive role models results in many lower income and minority children entering CDA programs with low financial efficacy. Because of low financial efficacy, we suggest that in order for financial education programs to be successful among lower income and minority children they need to be designed to address this reality. We posit that a way to address the reality of lower income and minority students is to adopt solution-focus brief therapy (SFBT) techniques. These techniques can be used to teach financial education instructors how to build positive financial efficacy beliefs among lower income and minority children.
Elliott, W. and Kim, J. (2013). The role of identity-based motivation and solution-focus brief therapy in unifying accounts and financial education in school-related CDA programs. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(3), p. 402-410.
Changes in financial aid policies raise questions about students being asked to pay too much for college and whether parents’ college savings for their children helps reduce the burden on students to pay for college. Using trivariate probit analysis with predicted probabilities, in this exploratory study we find recent changes in the financial aid system place a higher responsibility on African American, Latino/Hispanic, and moderate-income students to pay for college themselves. We also find when parents open a savings account, start a state-sponsored savings plan, or open a college investment fund students are less likely to pay for college with student contributions. Therefore, we suggest in addition to grants and scholarships, policies that encourage accumulation of savings for college among minority and lower income families may help reduce the college cost burden they experience.
Elliott, W. and Friedline, T. (2013). “You pay your share, we’ll pay our share”: The college cost burden and the role of race, income, and college assets. Economics of Education Review, 33(1), pp. 134-153.
Descriptive data indicate that 62% of White young adults between the ages of 17 and 23 years were on course (i.e., either in college or have graduated from college) in 2007, compared with only 37% of Black young adults. Given this, finding novel and promising ways to promote college progress among Black young adults, in particular, is a growing concern for policy makers. Controlling for a number of factors, the authors find that young adults who have school savings as adolescents are more likely to be on course than young adults who did not have school savings regardless of race. The authors conclude that policies that help parents and adolescents accumulate savings may be a simple and effective strategy for helping keep young adults “on course” in their college education, while taking on less debt.
Elliott, W. and Nam, I.* (2012). Direct effects of assets and savings on the college progress of Black young adults. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(1), 89-108.
Parents transfer many forms of advantage to children based on their financial resources. Of interest is whether parents transfer educational and financial advantages and whether this occurs early in life. This paper examines financial advantage by asking whether children's own savings—apart from that of their parents—can be predicted by a separate measure of parents' savings for their child. This study predicts children's basic and college savings at ages 12 to 15 with separate samples from low-to-moderate- (LMI; N = 333) and high-income (HI; N = 411) households using Panel Study of Income Dynamics and Child Development Supplement data. Propensity score weighting and logistic regression results find that parents' savings for their child is significant in both household types. Given this, policies that aim to include children in savings may help reduce transfers of financial advantage and, ultimately, educational advantage.
Friedline, T. (2012). Predicting children's savings: The role of parents' savings for transferring financial advantage and opportunities for financial inclusion. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 144–154.
In this study we examine predictors of adolescents' savings account ownership and use of mental accounting with a nationally representative, longitudinal sample of 744 adolescents ages 12 to 15 using Panel Study of Income Dynamics and Child Development Supplement data. We find sizable savings gaps along class lines. Further, findings suggest adolescents are more likely to have savings and use mental accounting when their parents have higher levels of education and have savings for them. Given that parents' education level and parents' savings for their child are directly related to adolescents' own savings, we suggest that traditional banking markets may not be able to equalize the advantage provided by having savings as an adolescent.
Friedline, T.*, Elliott, W., and Nam, I. (2012). Predicting savings and mental accounting among adolescents: The case of college. Children & Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1884-1895.
Economic strains play an important factor in students not only dropping out of school but also for not being able to attend college. As the cost of college tuition increases, many youths may perceive that the possibility of attending college may be out of their reach for financial reasons. Using data drawn from the savings for education, entrepreneurship, and down-payment initiative participants, this study explores asset building through a child savings account (CSA) program aimed at removing economic barriers to higher education for youths with financial needs. Concept mapping analysis was used to better understand how assets obtained through CSAs affect high school students' academic and behavior goals from a nonprofit youth development program in San Francisco, CA. Results show students find the CSA program helpful in learning fiscal management and saving for postsecondary education. All students rated the clusters on savings for education and fiscal education as being very important for their academic and career success and reported mostly big changes since participation in San Francisco SEED Program.
Kim, J.S., & Johnson, T. (2012). The academic and behavioral effects of a child savings accounts program on at-risk high school students. School Social Work Journal, 37(1), 75-95.
This study examines the influence of parents' college savings for their child on Hispanic youth's four-year college attendance. Using hierarchical generalized linear modeling (HGLM), we analyze a sample of 2750 Hispanic youth from the Education Longitudinal Survey (ELS: 2002/2006). Findings suggest that parents' college savings are significantly associated with Hispanic youth's four year college attendance. However, once parents' college expectations are added to the model, the significant effect of college savings disappears. Mediating tests show that parents' college expectations and youth's college expectations mediate the relationship between parents' college savings and Hispanic youth's attendance at a four-year college.
Song, H.* and Elliott, W. (2012). The effects of parents’ school savings on college expectations and Hispanic youth’s four-year college attendance. Children & Youth Services Review. 34(9), 1845-1852.
It has been suggested that children’s savings programs will be more effective if they are combined with strategies to build children’s college-bound identities. In this study we use a multi-level treatment approach to propensity score analysis to test this proposition. Findings suggest that children who have savings and are certain they will graduate from a four-year college are more likely to attend college than their counterparts. Given this, we suggest that children’s savings policies designed to increase college attendance rates will be more effective if they include strategies for building children’s college-bound identity and college-bound identity programs will be more effective if they are linked to children’s savings programs.
Elliott, W., Chowa, G. and Loke, V. (2011). Toward a children’s savings and college-bound identity intervention for raising college attendance rates: A multilevel propensity score analysis. Sociology Mind, 1(4). 192 –205.
This paper explores predictors of young adults’ savings using propensity score analysis and logistic regression with separate, longitudinal samples of whites and blacks aged 17–23 from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We ask who saves among adolescents and young adults and whether the likelihood of having a savings account and the amount saved in young adulthood can be predicted by two factors: (1) having a savings account during adolescence and (2) having families who own assets. The majority of white (90%) and black (64%) young adults had savings; however, blacks saved about 3% the amount saved by whites, suggesting that young adults’ savings may be patterned after disparities in the distribution of assets and families may transfer a financial advantage to young adults. Logistic regression results find that among whites, future orientation was a significant predictor of having a savings account in young adulthood. A notable trend level finding was that white young adults were more likely to have a savings account when they had a savings account as adolescents. Among blacks, academic achievement and household size were significant predictors of having a savings account in young adulthood. If confirmed in future research, findings suggest that Children’s Development Accounts may be one way to reduce racial disparities in savings by intervening at a young age and providing universal accounts to improve savings across the life course.
Friedline, T.* and Elliott, W. (2011). Predicting savings for white and black young adults: An early look at racial disparities in savings and the potential role of children's development accounts (CDAs). Journal of Race and Social Problems, 3(2), 99-118.
This paper examines the progression of savings between adolescence and young adulthood. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we ask whether adolescents with a savings account and parents who have assets significantly predict having a savings account and the amount saved in young adulthood. Descriptive statistics reveal that adolescents have savings accounts more often when they are White, employed, and live in households where the head is married, has more education, and owns assets. Propensity score analyses provide evidence confirming that adolescents with savings accounts are more likely to have savings accounts as young adults. There is some evidence to suggest that adolescents whose parents have savings on their behalf and higher net worth are more likely to have more saved as young adults. Findings suggest that parents may play an important role in modeling saving habits to adolescents. Furthermore, if our findings regarding adolescents’ savings accounts are confirmed in future research, this study suggests that having a savings account in adolescence may lead to an increased likelihood of having a savings account in young adulthood.
Friedline, T.* Elliott, W., and Nam, I.* (2011). Predicting savings in young adulthood: The role of adolescent savings. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 2(1), 1-22.
Recent findings using traditional regression methods show that children's savings designated for school are associated with higher math scores. We build on this research by using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) to confirm that children with school savings have higher math scores than those without school savings. Moreover, we suggest children's school savings may have a stronger association with children's math scores than with either household wealth or children's savings not designated for school. Further, we find evidence that children's school savings mediates the relationship between household wealth and math scores. Policy implications for children living in low-wealth households are discussed.
Elliott, W., Jung, H.,* and Friedline, T.* (2011). Raising math scores among children in low-wealth households: Potential Benefit of Children’s School Savings. Journal of Income Distribution, 20(2), 72-91.
National and international reports have established the legitimate use of child savings accounts (CSAs) as asset-building vehicles for youths. However, many U.S. programs report difficulty in recruiting parents for CSA programs and note the failure of some parents to take full advantage of the financial match available when they do participate. This article reports some of the findings from a mixed-method study that examines a group of African American parents' involvement with a U.S. child savings account program known as Saving for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED). The elements that parents perceive to be critical to a CSA program are identified and those elements are then examined as they relate to the SEED program. Analyses revealed six themes where elements that parents identified as important were also elements that were frequently demonstrated in the SEED program. However, the study uncovered serious challenges encountered by the SEED staff and lessons learned in the process. Findings present information that may help increase African American-American parent involvement in CSAs and other asset-building programs.
Johnson. T (2011). Socio-economic and institutional factors that facilitate and prevent low income African American Parents’ Involvement in a Children’s Savings Program. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 20(3), 167-183.
Increasingly, college graduation is seen as a necessary step toward achieving the American Dream. However, large disparities exist in graduation rates. For many families, the current family income is not enough to finance college. Therefore, many young adults have to rely on education loans, which may be difficult to repay, leaving them strapped with debt after leaving college. This study examines the potential role of assets and savings for promoting college progress among young adults. Overall, findings suggest that policies, such as Child Development Accounts (CDAs), that help parents and youth accumulate savings--especially savings for college--may increase college attendance and graduation completion rates.
Elliott, W. and Beverly, S. (2011). Staying on course: The effects of savings and assets on the college progress of young adults. American Journal of Education, 117(3), 343-374.
This paper has two main goals. First, we provide a review of 34 studies on the relationship between assets and children's educational attainment. Second, we discuss implications for Child Development Accounts (CDAs) policies. CDAs have been proposed as a potentially novel and promising asset approach for helping to finance college. More specifically, we propose that CDAs should be designed so that, in addition to promoting savings, they include aspects that help make children's college-bound identity salient, congruent with children's group identity, and that help children develop strategies for overcoming difficulties.
Elliott, W., Destin, M, and Friedline, T*. (2011). Taking stock of ten years of research on the relationship between assets and children’s educational outcomes: Implications for theory, policy and intervention. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(11), 2312—2328.
This study has three goals: (1) to provide an extensive review of research on the assets/expectation relationship, (2) to provide a conceptual framework for how children's savings effects children's college-bound identity (children's college expectations are a proxy for children's college-bound identity), and (3) to conduct a simultaneous test of whether owning a savings account leads to college-bound identity or college-bound identity lead to owning a savings account using path analytic technique with Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Our review reveals asset researchers theorize about college-bound identity in two distinct but compatible ways: college-bound identity as a "linking mechanism", and college-bound identity as a mediator. However, there has been little theoretical development on the attitudinal effects of assets. In this study, we posit a conceptual framework for how children's savings affects children's college-bound identity. Findings from the simultaneous test of the assets/college-bound identity relationship suggest that savings has modest effect on college-bound identity and vice versa. A policy implication is that asset building policies that seek to build children's college-bound identity in addition to their savings may be more effective than policies that only seek to build children's savings.
Elliott, W., Choi, E. H.*, Destin, M. and Kim, K. (2011). The age old question, which comes first? A simultaneous test of children’s savings and children’s college-bound identity. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(7), 1101-1111.
Despite the importance of higher education, Hispanic immigrant youth still have far lower college attainment rate than whites in the U.S. Existing studies show the significant role of household assets on educational attainment even after controlling for income. Thus, this study examines the role of homeownership and school savings on Hispanic immigrant youth's college attendance and graduation. Findings show that homeownership is a significant positive predictor of Hispanic immigrant youth's college attendance and graduation, but parent school savings is not a significant predictor. Policy and practice implications discussed.
Song, H. and Elliott, W. (2011). The role of assets in improving college attainment among Hispanic immigrant youth in the U.S. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(11), 2160-2167.
Elliott, W. and Beverly, S. (2011). The role of savings and wealth in reducing “wilt” between expectations and college attendance. Journal of Children and Poverty, 17(2), 165-185.