This course focuses on understanding the emerging field of asset policy and considers its contribution to the social policy agenda. Asset-building policies have the potential to reduce poverty, increase economic security, and address wealth inequalities. The course raises questions about how assets contribute across the life course to individual, family, community, and national well-being. We will familiarize ourselves with the emerging asset building literature and discuss how this approach constitutes a departure from traditional poverty frameworks. The course examines the institutional and structural conditions that limit or expand opportunities for wealth accumulation and retention, the role of assets in perpetuating inequalities, and explores opportunities for promoting asset building. We will spend some time understanding the extent to which traditional institutions (such as banks), policies (such as taxes), and programs (such as TANF) affect pathways out of poverty and economic and social stability.
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