Social Solutions to Poverty:
America's Struggle to Build a Just Society
A book by Scott Myers-Lipton


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Individual Development Accounts




. . . Michael Sherraden and other contemporary egalitarian thinkers have been exploring since the early 1990s how to take this idea of individual property stakeholding and use it as a poverty reduction strategy. Several recent studies indicate that 30 percent of American adults possess zero or negative net financial assets. These asset-poor people lack savings, stocks, bonds, and retirement funds, all of which increase in value over time. In order to change this unequal distribution, Sherraden has called on the United States to develop a new social welfare model based on asset building. The basic idea is to have the government match an individual’s contribution to personal savings plans (e.g., education and homeownership) in order to build wealth. Although Sherradan still believes in Social Security and an income-based welfare when necessary, he wants to see more emphasis put on the assets-based approach. He argues that this strategy is more effective in reducing poverty and is more in line with America’s capitalist tradition of accumulation and economic self-sufficiency.

Myers-Lipton, p. 270

(Excerpted from “Social Solutions to Poverty” © Paradigm Publishers 2006)



Point/Counterpoint: Response to Jared Bernstein by Michael Sherraden


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