Building Middle Class Wealth with American Development Accounts

U.S. social policy traditionally has emphasized supporting income for low-income families, to the neglect of wealth-building strategies.1 While income supports are essential for covering daily expenses, upward mobility depends on saving and building personal assets, especially completing post-secondary education, purchasing a home, or creating a business.2

Moreover, inequality of wealth in America is worse than income inequality. That’s why it’s time for a new approach to empowering low-income and working Americans. U.S. social policy in the 21st century should stress social investment and wealth creation, not just income transfers to support consumption. This report proposes a new policy – American Development Accounts (ADAs) – intended to help younger workers and blue-collar households rise into the middle class by enabling them to save and accrue assets.

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