Dennis, M. K., Scanlon, E., & Sellon, A. (in review). "It's a generosity loop": Perceptions of Field Gleaning as Anti-Hunger Volunteerism. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
Understanding children’s development is critical in the midst of efforts that teach children about money and open savings accounts for them early in life. These efforts are delivered at a time of extensive developmental change, yet with limited attention to this context. Through a review of research, this study unveils the ages at which children may be able to save and to use savings accounts—specific aspects of economic knowledge and behavior—based on cognitive, social, and linguistic development. Children are developmentally capable of saving by age five or six. Children’s developmental gains at this age may prepare them for the gains they make in economic knowledge and behavior. Implications are discussed with regard to policy efforts like Child Development Accounts (CDAs) that open savings accounts for young children and encourage saving behaviors. CDAs should take development into consideration if children are to use their accounts for their benefit.
Friedline, T. (2015). A developmental perspective on children's economic agency. Journal of Consumer Affairs [Special Issue: Starting Early for Financial Success: Capability into Action]).
This paper chronicles the development of Children’s Savings Account (CSA) policy in the states that comprise the New England region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. This paper does not seek to compare CSA programs within the New England states directly but does detail the origins, aims, delivery systems, incentives, financing, enrollment mechanisms, and engagement approaches employed in each state, as well as challenges encountered, potential research contributions, and opportunities for expansion and/or integration into other policy venues. As described in this overview, this policy development can be best understood not as individual efforts but a regional strategy, facilitated by the New England CSA Consortium. This regional approach may hold considerable promise for advancing children’s savings nationally. As defined here, CSAs are progressive asset investments capable of cultivating improved educational attainment and, then, catalyzing greater upward mobility, particularly for disadvantaged children. Part of New England’s CSA activity has included progress toward agreed-upon metrics for gauging the effects of CSAs on indicators important to the state actors championing them, and future years will provide important insights into the potential for this intervention to support critical educational and economic development objectives.
Lewis, M. K. and Elliott, W. (2015). A regional approach to children's savings account development: The case of New England.
Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) are savings vehicles, usually initiated early in a child’s life and usually designated for postsecondary educational expenses (Elliott & Lewis, 2014). While CSAs are financial products, typically held either in a deposit institution such as a credit union or bank or in a state-supported 529 college savings plan, they are more than just an account. CSAs are best understood as transformative asset-based interventions that reshape the distributional consequences of the current educational structure (Elliott & Lewis, 2015). As such, CSAs have significant implications for improving educational outcomes, particularly among low-income and otherwise disadvantaged children (see Elliott, 2013 re: asset effects on children’s educational attainment). This potential to close achievement gaps by cultivating greater educational expectations, engagement, and persistence among children less likely to succeed without such interventions has captured policymakers’ attention and galvanized significant momentum for Children’s Savings Accounts. In recent years, CSAs have been implemented by school districts (such as Kindergarten-to-College in San Francisco), state governments (Nevada’s College Kickstart and Connecticut’s CHET Baby Scholars), state/private partnerships (Maine’s Harold Alfond College Challenge is funded by the Harold Alfond Scholarship Foundation, but administered through the state’s NextGen 529 plan), and community-based organizations (Promise Indiana, started by the YMCA of Wabash County, as well as New Mexico’s Prosperity Kids, the focus of this report). There is municipal movement, as well, with a CSA recently announced in St. Louis, Missouri, and programs soon to come online such as in Boston, Massachusetts. State leaders are also exploring ways to integrate the principles of children’s asset building into their work in order to leverage the benefits of CSAs on educational outcomes within their respective states. These efforts include a two-generation approach in public assistance programs in Colorado, a child support savings initiative in Kansas, and new CSA pilots in development in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Today's young adults, referred to as Millennials born between the early 1980's and 2000's, are coming of age in an economy unlike any other. The macroeconomic conditions of the Great Recession from approximately 2007 to 2011 systematically undermined Millennials’ financial health by limiting employment opportunities, stagnating income growth, reducing net worth, and increasing reliance on debt. Millennials entered a labor market with limited opportunities and saw higher unemployment rates than the rest of the population. Fewer Millennials entered the labor market than young adults from any preceding generation and their unemployment rate was roughly 15 to 17 percent at the height of the recession—5 to 7 percentage points higher than the average unemployment rate for the rest of the population. They also experienced diminishing returns for participating in the labor market, earning 6 percent less per paycheck than in previous years.
Friedline, T., & West, S. (2015). Building Millennials' financial health via financial capability. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI).
This study, generously funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, examined the financial health and capability of lower-income Millennial young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 (annual incomes < $25,000; N = 2,578) from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). In particular, this study explored how varying combinations of financial education and financial inclusion related to Millennials' financial behaviors, like saving for emergencies, using alternative financial service providers, and carrying debt. The 2012 NFCS is one of the few data sets with extensive questions about financial behaviors. The results identifying significant differences in the data were based on multiply imputed and propensity score weighted (average treatment effect for the treated; ATT) regression analyses of young adults in the sample.
West, S., & Friedline, T. (2015). Coming of age on a shoestring budget: Financial capability for lower-income Millennials (AEDI Research Brief). Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center for Assets, Education, and Inclusion.
In Celebration of the Center for Social Developments 20th Anniversary, AEDI held a roundtable on the development of asset based policies in the U.S. since Michael Sherraden's book, Assets and the Poor.
This study examines the extent of emergent, outstanding credit card debt among young adult college students and investigates whether any associations exist between the characteristics of the communities in which these students grew up or lived and their credit card debt. Using data (N = 748) from a longitudinal survey and merging community-level characteristics measured at the zip code level, we confirmed that a community’s unemployment rate, average total debt, average credit score, and number of bank branch offices were associated with a young adult college student’s acquisition and accumulation of credit card debt. Community-level characteristics had the strongest associations with credit card debt even after controlling for individual characteristics such as a young adult college student’s race, GPA, and financial independence and familial characteristics such as their parents’ income and whether their parents discussed financial matters like establishing credit. The findings from this research may help to understand how communities can be better capacitated to support the financial goals of their residents.
Friedline, T., West, S., Rosell, N., Serido, J., & Shim, S. (2015). Do community characteristics relate to young adult college students’ credit card debt (AEDI Research Brief)? Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.
Credit cards are a fundamental component of households’ financial portfolios in the United States; however, overreliance on credit may contribute to financial setbacks. The potential for financial setbacks is particularly concerning among the current young adult generation that is accumulating higher amounts of credit card debt than preceding generations. These trends have led many researchers and policymakers to argue that financial education should become a fundamental component of public school curricula, assuming that financially educated young adults would make better, healthier decisions about credit. However, young adults’ credit card debt may be more than an individual phenomenon. A young adult’s street address—the community in which they grow up or live—can be a key factor in determining how they use credit. This study uses restricted-access, zip code data from a longitudinal sample of 748 young adult college students to examine whether the characteristics of the communities in which they grew up or lived prior to attending college relates to their outstanding credit card debt. A community’s characteristics, such as its unemployment rate and concentration of mainstream banks, have the strongest associations with a young adults’ credit card debt even after taking into consideration their financial education or whether their parents taught them about money as they were growing up. Findings help to understand how communities can be better capacitated to support young adults’ financial health.
Friedline, T., West, S., Rosell, N., Serido, J., & Shim, S. (2015). Do community characteristics relate to young adult college students' credit card debt? The hypothesized role of collective institutional efficacy. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.
There is concern that the increasing accessibility of alternative financial services in communities across the US is risking individuals' financial health by increasing their use of these high-cost services, potentially trapping them into carrying burdensome debt, damaging their credit scores, or delaying payments on rent or utilities. This study uses restricted-access, zip code data from a nationally representative sample of nearly 24,000 adult individuals to examine whether the concentration of alternative financial services within communities relates to individuals’ use of these services. Generally, the assumption holds that increased access is associated with increased use; however, there are differences in how individuals use alternative financial services based on their annual household income. Modest and highest income individuals are more likely to use these services when they live in communities with higher concentrations of alternative financial services. For lowest income individuals, higher concentrations are associated with their more frequent or chronic use of these services. Local, state, and national policies are needed to provide safe and affordable financial services within communities and to regulate the expanding alternative financial services industry.
Friedline, T., & Kepple, N. (2016). Does community access to alternative financial services relate to individuals' use of these services (AEDI Research Brief)? Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion.
There is concern that the increasing number of alternative financial services in communities across the US is risking individuals' financial health by increasing their use of these highcost services. To address this concern, this study used restricted-access, zip code data from nationally representative samples of adult individuals and examined whether the density or concentration of alternative financial services within communities related to individuals’ use of these services. The associations between community density and individuals' use varied by annual household income: Communities' higher density of alternative financial services was associated with the increased probability that modest and highest income individuals ever used these services, while higher density was associated with more chronic use among lowest income individuals. State regulation that prohibited payday lenders was protective for modest and highest income individuals, but had no effect for lowest income individuals. Policy implications are discussed.
Friedline, T., & Kepple, N. (2016). Does community access to alternative financial services relate to individuals’ use of these services? Beyond individual explanations. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion
Conrad-Hiebner, A., & Scanlon, E. (2015). Economic conditions and child maltreatment: Toward an agenda for social work. Families in Society.
Friedline, T., Scanlon, E., Johnson, T., & Elliott W. (accepted). Educational and Financial Institutions Partnering to Implement CSAs: Evaluation of Financial Partners' Perspectives from the 2011 GEAR UP Invitational Priority. Journal of Community Practice
Financial education sans opportunities for hands-on experience and knowledge operationalization may be insufficient for promoting healthy financial behaviors. Financial capability combines financial education with financial inclusion via a savings account, thereby giving an opportunity translate knowledge into practice. This study used data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study to examine relationships between financial capability and financial behaviors of United States Millennials (N = 6,865). Compared to their financially excluded peers, Millennials who were financially capable were 176% more likely to afford unexpected expenses, 224% more likely to save for emergencies, 21% less likely to use alternative financial services, and 30% less likely to carry burdensome debt. Interventions that focus solely on financial education or inclusion may be insufficient for facilitating Millennials’ healthy financial behaviors; interventions should instead develop financial capability.
This study, generously funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, examined the financial health and capability of Millennial young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 (N = 6,865) from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). In particular, this study explored how varying combinations of financial education and financial inclusion related to Millennials' financial behaviors, like saving for emergencies, using alter-native financial service providers, and carrying debt. The 2012 NFCS is one of the few data sets with extensive questions about financial behaviors. The results identifying significant differences in the data were based on multiply imputed and propensity score weighted (average treatment effect for the treated; ATT) regression analyses of young adults in the sample
Friedline, T., & West, S. (2015). Financial education is not enough (AEDI Research Brief). Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center for Assets, Education, and Inclusion.
The dismantling of the American social contract is jeopardizing the economic security and mobility of today's young people and that of future generations. The labor market no longer delivers on its promises of adequate compensation. Higher education, itself pruning opportunity by expecting young people to borrow heavily for its privilege, now has outsized importance for realizing the labor market’s potential. Young people are increasingly born into opportunity that determines whether and how they can take advantage of these institutions and the opportunities they offer. This paper makes a case for financial inclusion as part of a new American social contract. Like owning stock in a company, financial inclusion may be one way of giving young people a stake within these institutions and affirming these institutions' commitments to their roles in the social contract. Children's Savings Accounts (CSAs) are presented as a way of beginning to deliver financial inclusion and create and shore up a new American social contract—one that can sustain future generations and the United States economy into the 22nd century.
Wittman, L., & Scanlon, E. (in press). From Helena to Harlem: Barriers to saving at two SEED sites. Journal of Community Practice.
Research suggests that Children’s Savings Accounts (CSAs) may be capable of charting improved opportunities for children’s success through the mechanisms of account ownership and transformative asset accumulation. Fueled in large part by evidence of significant effects on children’s educational attainment and economic well-being, the CSA field has experienced rapid growth, with programs and policies proliferating around the country. The accounts that form the core intervention within these CSA initiatives are delivered through two principal delivery systems: traditional depository institutions (banks and credit unions), relied on primarily by local and community-based efforts, and state-sponsored 529 college saving plans, the vehicle of choice for most state-level CSAs. At this point in the CSA trajectory, individual programs and the field as a whole face critical questions about the best ways to build CSAs, in order to maximize their potential for potent effects while facilitating sustainable replication.
This paper, jointly produced by the Center on Assets, Education, and Inclusion (AEDI) at the University of Kansas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, was informed by a roundtable on CSA delivery systems, held at the Boston Fed in December 2014. It describes the design, key features, and respective challenges of each principal delivery system. Assessed in light of the CSA field’s guiding principles for delivery system design (universal and automatic enrollment, national footprint, cultivation of a saver identity, asset-building, administrative efficiency, and adequate consumer protection), these models have distinct advantages and limitations. This paper attempts to contribute to the critical task of building the knowledge base needed to help children’s savings programs begin to weigh the pros and cons of each of these existing delivery systems.
Friedline, T., Despard, M., & Chowa, G. (2015). Preventive policy strategy for banking the unbanked: Savings accounts for teenagers? Journal of Poverty.
Debt is an important component of young Americans’ balance sheets, in part because the effects of different types of debt can vary widely: while some types of debt can contribute to lifetime economic mobility, other types can drain resources. This paper used data from the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation to consider the role that a savings account might play in the use of secured and unsecured debt by young adult households. While a savings account was related to more accumulated debt overall, the type of debt accumulated was less risky and potentially more productive. Owning a savings account was associated with a 15% increase, or $7,500, in the value of secured debt and a 14% decrease, or $581, in the value of unsecured debt. Thus, a savings account may help young adults “invest in their debt” by entering better, healthier credit markets and protecting them from riskier ones.