Publication Date



Although there is no universal approach to offering Child Development Accounts (CDAs), this paper introduces a framework for an age-based conceptual model that describes how such accounts might influence indicators of child wellbeing. With a focus on optimal age-appropriate development beginning at birth and ranging through young adulthood, the model incorporates research from multiple disciplines to include direct effects, indirect effects and critical milestones. We review empirical evidence from national datasets (primarily from the United States, but including research from other developed countries) to provide a context for this framework. This conceptual and empirical backdrop provides a starting point from which to critique key dimensions of CDA policy and consider potential implications of such an approach. Suggestions for future research are offered.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building


Subsequent Publication: Williams Shanks, T. R., Kim, Y., Loke, V., & Destin M. (2010). Assets and child well-being in developed countries. Children & Youth Services Review, 32(11), 1488–1496. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.03.011

Original Citation

Williams Shanks, T., Kim, Y., Loke, V., & Destin, M. (2009). Assets and child well-being in developed countries (CSD Working Paper No. 09-66). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


asset effects, assets, CDA, child development account, child development, CDA Symposium