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Mapping the perspectives of low-income parents in a children’s college savings account program

Johnson, Toni
Adams, Deborah
Kim, Johnny S.
Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 
Journal Article

Policies and programs designed to help low-income families save and build assets for developmental uses such as higher education, homeownership, and entrepreneurship are emerging and growing globally. This study uses participatory concept mapping techniques to explore perspectives of low-income parents in a children's college savings account program in a large US city. Participants in this study worked together to generate data on effective components of child savings account (CSA) programs. They then sorted these CSA components into conceptual groups reflecting their perspectives on which of the program elements were related to one another. Finally, participants were asked to rate the importance of each CSA component. Findings suggest that parents view CSA components that: (1) demonstrate respect for parents and (2) enhance accountability as being particularly effective and important elements of matched saving programs. While much more research is needed, particularly with lower-income families and communities, these findings are consistent with an emerging institutional theory of saving and asset accumulation. Implications for institutional theory, asset-building policies, CSA programs, and future research are discussed.


Johnson, T. , Adams, D., & Kim, J.(2010). Mapping the perspectives of low-income parents in a children’s college savings account program.  Children and Youth Services Review, 32(1), 129-136.

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