Effects of individual development accounts on asset purchases and saving behavior: Evidence from a controlled experiment

Gregory Mills, William G. Gale, Rhiannon Patterson, Gary Engelhardt, Michael D. Eriksen, Emil Apostolov

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51 Scopus citations


We evaluate the first controlled field experiment on Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Including their own contributions and matching funds, treatment group members in the Tulsa, Oklahoma program could accumulate $6750 for home purchase or $4500 for other qualified uses. Almost all treatment group members opened accounts, but many withdrew all funds for unqualified purposes. Among renters at the beginning of the experiment, the IDA increased homeownership rates after 4 years by 7-11 percentage points and reduced non-retirement financial assets by $700-$1000. The IDA had almost no other discernable effect on other subsidized assets, overall wealth, or poverty rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1530
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 2008



  • Asset building
  • Low-income households
  • Matching contibutions
  • Saving
  • Wealth accumulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Finance

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