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The Social Policy Institute (SPI), the International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD), and the Next Age Institute (NAI) hosted a discussion about asset building for long-term child development and CSA programs—with the particular focus on CSAs in Israel and Uganda, which differ greatly in their structure.
Savings play a unique role in shaping the financial security of individuals and families in high- and low-income countries. Sufficient savings can help families maintain adequate levels of consumption, provide a buffer against financial shocks, and enable long-term investments in higher education or homeownership. Ultimately, having enough economic resources can help advance intergenerational economic mobility.
One solution several countries around the world have explored are specialized child savings account (CSA) programs. CSAs are savings or investment accounts typically opened in the name of a child at birth or young age that aim to promote savings and asset accumulation for long-term purposes, such as post-secondary education. The programs have the potential to help families overcome barriers to saving and improve asset-building efforts.
Israel’s national CSA program is universal: every Israeli child gets a savings account opened in their name, and the government deposits approximately USD 14 per month to these accounts. Participating parents can transfer additional funds from a separate child allowance into the long-term savings accounts and select a specific savings account for their children. In Uganda, ICHAD leads five NIH-funded applied research studies in Southwestern Uganda that seek to improve health and educational outcomes in communities heavily affected by poverty and HIV/AIDS. To this end, the team utilizes combination interventions that include a CSA component. ICHAD seeks to use this data-driven research to guide the national discussion around the benefits of CSAs.
The speakers will present the recent empirical evidence on CSA programs, as well as discuss the challenges and opportunities in implementing the child savings programs in the two countries.
The virtual event takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (CT) on Oct. 15, 2020.
- Michael Sherraden, director, Center for Social Development (CSD); director, Next Age Institute (NAI); George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis.
- Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director, Social Policy Institute (SPI); Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis.
- Fred Ssewamala, director, International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD); director, Strengthening Mental Health and Research Training (SMART) Africa Center; William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis.
- John Gal, professor, The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; senior researcher, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.
- Timothy Opobo, executive director, AfriChild Centre, Makerere University-Kampala-Uganda.
- Ozge Sensoy Bahar, research assistant professor, Brown School; co-director; International Center for Child Health and Development (ICHAD), Washington University in St. Louis.