A developmental perspective on children's economic agency

Friedline, Terri
Financial Inclusion
Publication type: 
Journal Article

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]). 

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