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Policies to promote economic stability, asset building, and child development

Author(s): 
Lewis, Melinda
Cramer, Reid
Sprague, Aleta
Project(s): 
Wealth Transfer
Publication type: 
Journal Article

This paper makes the case that the pattern low-income families walk into is a present time-oriented or consumption-based welfare system, with attendant incentives and disincentives; in contrast, the pattern higher-income families walk into is future-oriented or asset-based. These two divergent systems do not deliver equitable educational outcomes for children. To ensure that higher education can play an equalizing role in the U.S. economy, the nation needs a better welfare system for the poor, one that builds on the asset-accumulation structures that serve the needs of advantaged families. This new institutional approach would undo the current system of educational advantages for higher-income children over low-income children and, in turn, redress educational inequalities in America. In order to create a level playing field welfare policies are needed that enable low-income families to accumulate assets. In this paper we discuss policies that might help low-income families accumulate assets, including modifications to existing income supports, as well as the development of complementary asset-based institutions.

Citation: 

Lewis, M., Cramer, R., Elliott, W., and Spraque, A. (2013). Policies to promote economic stability, asset building, and child development. Children and Youth Services Review, 36, 15-21.

New Book Released

Today’s student loan system is in place because of a political compromise, and growing discontent with student debt may signal that this arrangement has run its course. While there are resources and organizations in place to help those struggling with debt, the time has come to consider a new direction for financial aid, William Elliott III and Melinda Lewis argue in “Student Debt: A Reference Handbook.”

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