Individual Development Accounts
DOI link for Individual Development Accounts
Individual Development Accounts book
How would asset-based welfare policy be put into practice? Through what mechanism would assets be accumulated? By whom? Under what circumstances? There are many possible answers to these questions, but the suggestion here is for a relatively simple and universal system of accounts similar to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), which began in 1974. For the sake of discussion, let us call these new accounts Individual Development Accounts (IDAs).1 IDAs would be optional, earnings-bearing, tax-benefited accounts in the name of each individual, initiated as early as birth, and restricted to designated purposes. Regardless of the category of welfare policy (housing, education, self-employment, retirement, or other) assets would be accumulated in these long-term restricted accounts. The federal government would match or otherwise subsidize deposits for the poor, and there would be potential for creative financing through the private sector (for example, adoption of a school by a corporation) or through the efforts of account holders themselves (for example, student fund-raising projects or student-run businesses). IDAs would be designed to promote orientation toward the future, long-range planning, savings and investment, individual initiative, individual choice, and achievement of life goals.