Small-dollar children’s savings accounts and children's college outcomes

Children's Savings Account
Publication type: 
Journal Article

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.

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