The American Dream is built upon the enduring values of equal opportunity and personal responsibility. Ensuring that this dream remains attainable depends upon America being able to promote these values among rising generations. Research and experience in the field consistently supports the thesis that children's savings accounts (CSAs) can provide a vehicle to support these objectives. These accounts can serve as a magnet for savings and investment from families and communities, and meaningfully promote increased savings, responsible financial behavior, and achievement that can facilitate the climb up the economic ladder. Previous CSA proposals have attracted the attention of policymakers across the political spectrum, and with renewed leadership,CSAs can be a foundational element of a bipartisan opportunity and economic mobility agenda.
This paper reviews the research foundations for this policy idea, describes the proliferation of recent policy efforts in diverse contexts, and considers some of the key policy design questions relevant for a federal policy effort.