Universal and Progressive Child Development Accounts: A Policy Innovation to Reduce Educational Disparity

Publication Date



Child Development Accounts (CDAs) aim to increase college completion rates among disadvantaged youth in part by helping youth see themselves as “college bound.” This article summarizes findings from several studies about the implementation and impacts of a universal and progressive CDA program, with particular emphasis on outcomes for disadvantaged children. Data come from a large randomized experiment with probability sampling in a full population. Evidence indicates that the CDA positively impacts ownership of college savings accounts and assets, educational expectations, and other indicators of well-being. Disadvantaged children benefit from having a CDA, often more than advantaged children do. If the CDA proves to have long-term effects on educational expectations, college preparation, and ultimately educational achievement, then a national universal and progressive CDA could reduce educational disparities by race and class.

Document Type



Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Sherraden, M., Clancy, M., Nam, Y., Huang, J., Kim, Y., Beverly, S. G., … Purnell, J. Q. (2016). Universal and progressive Child Development Accounts: A policy innovation to reduce educational disparity. Urban Education, 53(6), 806-833. doi:10.1177/0042085916682573


SEED for Oklahoma Kids


SEED OK, CDA, child development account, policy, education, educational outcomes, asset building, asset effects, asset accumulation, asset ownership, assets, college expectations, college savings plan, college savings, educational expectations, well-being, United States, social policy, savings, saving, randomized controlled trial, post-secondary education