Methods: The four papers presented in this symposium represent a range of rigorous research methods, including experimental designs with randomized assignment, quasi-experimental design, and ethnographic study. Both quantitative and qualitative data are analyzed using advanced methods to test research hypotheses to inform policy and program development. Each study focuses on populations underrepresented in most asset-based research, including racial/ethnic minority youth and low-income households. These studies examine the impact of environment and the longitudinal influence of parental, teacher, and peer relationships on later financial and asset-based outcomes.
Results: The first study finds that thinking of the path to college (closed vs. open) influences 7th-grade students' achievement goals and plans. Changing children's perceptions of future opportunity improves planned effort, particularly when students are not behind academically (i.e., before an achievement gap occurs). The second study finds that parental teaching of money management in childhood is significantly associated with financial outcomes in adulthood, as measured by credit scores and credit debt. Additionally, among respondents who report high levels of prior parental teaching of money management, there is a strong positive correlation between attainment of higher education and better credit outcomes. The third study presents early findings showing that Native American youth who participate in financial and entrepreneurship education have improved odds of high-school graduation and demonstrate positive changes in their perceptions of their academic and career futures. The final study finds that low-income parents are able to save in children's development accounts despite resource constraints, and that these accounts bolster parents' expectations for their children's futures. However, this study shows slow take-up rates to open the accounts can be largely explained by mistrust of financial institutions, reluctance to share information, and embarrassment of gaps in financial knowledge.
Conclusions: This symposium addresses important gaps in the current literature on assets, expectations, and children's financial futures. The goal of each study is to advance knowledge of how the presence of assets and financial education impact children's outcomes, and how effective interventions can be developed. By raising parental and children's expectations for the future and increasing their educational and financial achievements, families can break the intergenerational cycle of asset poverty.