This work proposes a new approach to welfare: a social policy that goes beyond simple income maintenance to foster individual initiative and self-sufficiency. It argues for an asset-based policy that would create a system of saving incentives through individual development accounts (IDAs) for specific purposes, such as college education, homeownership, self-employment and retirement security. In this way, low-income Americans could gain the same opportunities that middle- and upper-income citizens have to plan ahead, set aside savings and invest in a more secure future.

part I|92 pages

Maintenance: Welfare as Income

chapter 2|19 pages

Income Distribution and Income Poverty

chapter 3|15 pages

The State of Welfare Theory

chapter 4|28 pages

Federal Welfare Policy—Who Benefits?

chapter 5|15 pages

The Welfare Reform Debate

part II|210 pages

Development: Welfare as Assets

chapter 6|26 pages

The Nature and Distribution of Assets

chapter 7|24 pages

Inheritance of Asset Inequality

chapter 8|44 pages

Toward a Theory of Welfare Based on Assets

chapter 9|31 pages

The Design of Asset-Based Welfare Policy

chapter 10|14 pages

Individual Development Accounts

chapter 11|46 pages

Examples, Proposals, Costs

chapter 13|9 pages

Summary and Conclusion