Publication Date



An important frontier in savings policy and research is the effectiveness of accounts at birth. This paper presents ideas and initial findings from the experience of American Indian nations—America’s first asset-builders—with such policies. It describes the motivations for creating “minors’ accounts,” which are offered by approximately 70 tribes. These tribes are the only jurisdictions in the nation to offer universal, unrestricted accounts for children. Increasingly, they also are using conditions and incentives to promote their policy goals. Their experiences and ideas offer important insights for mainstream policy makers and program managers (in the US and elsewhere) about how to design effective children’s accounts policy. The paper closes by stressing a two-way flow of information, as ideas from experience and research in non-tribal communities offer new ways to strengthen tribal minors’ account policies and further their welfareenhancing goals.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building


Subsequent publication: Jorgensen, M., & Morris, P. (2010). Tribal experience with children's accounts. Children & Youth Services Review, 32(11), 1528–1537. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.03.017

Original Citation

Jorgensen, M. (with Morris, P.). (2009). Tribal innovations in children's accounts (CSD Working Paper No. 09-47). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


CDA Symposium, CDA, child savings, native assets, Native American, policy, college savings