Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 145–162 | Cite as

Program Knowledge and Racial Disparities in Savings Outcomes in a Child Development Account Experiment

  • Yunju NamEmail author
  • Elizabeth Hole
  • Michael Sherraden
  • Margaret M. Clancy
Original Paper


This study investigated whether participants’ program knowledge was associated with savings outcomes in Child Development Accounts and whether differences in program knowledge explained racial and ethnic disparities in savings outcomes. We used data collected from White, Black, American Indian, and Hispanic treatment participants in the SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) experiment (N = 1126). Analysis results indicated that knowledge of SEED OK program features was low, especially among members of minority groups. Logit and Tobit regressions showed that program knowledge was positively related to the likelihood of holding a SEED OK account and to individual savings amounts. Gaps in program knowledge were associated with racial disparities in savings outcomes. If Whites and minorities had the same levels of program knowledge, gaps in savings outcomes would have significantly narrowed. The findings call for the development of policy designs and communication tools to enhance knowledge of program features among households with Child Development Accounts, especially racial- and ethnic-minority households.


Racial disparities Wealth College savings Asset building 



Support for SEED for Oklahoma Kids comes from the Ford Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. We especially value our partnership with the state of Oklahoma: Ken Miller, State Treasurer; Scott Meacham, former State Treasurer; Tim Allen, Deputy Treasurer for Communications and Program Administration; and James Wilbanks, former Director of Revenue and Fiscal Policy. We appreciate the contributions of staff at RTI International. The Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan Program Manager, TIAA-CREF, has also been a valuable partner. At the Center for Social Development, we are grateful to Mark Schreiner and Nora Wikoff for their assistance in managing the survey data and to Vernon Loke, Lisa Reyes Mason, and Donna-Mae Knights for assistance with data management and cleaning. The authors also thank Christopher Leiker for his wonderful editing assistance and staff on the SEED OK team over several years.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Support for SEED for Oklahoma Kids (SEED OK) comes from the Ford Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. The sponsors did not participate in the design or conduct of the study; in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The SEED OK experiment obtained institutional review board approval from Washington University in Saint Louis (IRB ID No. 201102246). All procedures involving human participants were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. No identifying information about participants is included in the article. The manuscript will not infringe upon any statutory copyright. This paper has not been published previously and is not under consideration elsewhere.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Center for Social DevelopmentWashington University in Saint LouisSt. LouisUSA

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