Publication Date



This Working Paper has been submitted for inclusion in the new online edition of theEncyclopedia of Social Work, which is published by Oxford University Press. The paper discusses efforts to implement Child Development Accounts in the United States and numerous other countries. Child Development Accounts (CDAs) are subsidized savings or investment accounts to help people accumulate assets for developmental purposes and life course needs. They are envisioned as universal (everyone participates), progressive (greater subsidies for the poor), and potentially lifelong national policy. These features distinguish CDAs from most existing asset-building policies and programs around the world, which are typically regressive, giving greater benefits to the well-off. With policy innovation in recent years, several countries now have national CDA policies, and four states in the United States have statewide programs. Some of these are designed to be universal and progressive. Evidence indicates that true universality can be achieved, but only with automatic account opening and automatic deposits. In the absence of automatic features, advantaged families participate and benefit more. Today, momentum for universal and automatic features is gradually gaining traction and accelerating. At this stage in the emergence of inclusive asset-based policy, this is the most important development.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Global Asset Building

Original Citation

Sherraden, M., CHENG, L.-C., Ssewamala, F. M., KIM, Y., Loke, V., ZOU, L., … HAN, C.-K. (2016). International Child Development Accounts (CSD Working Paper No. 16-48). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development. Under review with theEncyclopedia of Social Work(Oxford University Press).


Global Assets Project


asset building, asset holding, assets, asset ownership, CDA, child development account, child development, social inclusion, social policy