This week we’re exploring how an asset-building framework can bolster existing strategies to address poverty in the U.S. As Aleta Sprague wrote last Wednesday, “50 years after President Johnson’s [War on Poverty] speech and nearly 25 years
since Michael Sherraden published Assets and the Poor
, we’ve learned a few things about the role of assets and savings as an anti-poverty tool.” She enumerates these findings: the connection between asset holdings and upward mobility, better educational outcomes, and increased life stability. Some of these outcomes are intuitive, but our safety net policies since the initiation of the War on Poverty haven’t embraced the concept that lower income people can and do save or that savings can be a central part of moving out of poverty in a sustainable way.
The connection between having an emergency savings fund or a dedicated account to save for retirement and financial stability is a straightforward one. It’s relatively easy to understand how building financial assets leads to positive economic outcomes over the long term. But asset ownership is more than just a financial stabilizer – it can have important effects on broader health and social wellbeing. A mounting body of evidence helps to establish this strong positive relationship between and health and wealth.