AFI Research: Evaluation Studies

Publication Date: June 13, 2017


Building Savings for Success: Early Impacts from the Assets for Independence Program Randomized Evaluation (2016)

Since FY 2011, ACF’s Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation has overseen a random assignment evaluation of the AFI program in partnership with OCS. The purpose is to evaluate the impact of AFI program participation on savings, savings patterns, and asset purchase by individuals and families with low incomes. In 2016, ACF released the early impact study report with the following key findings:

  • AFI significantly increased liquid assets (savings, cash, etc.). A larger portion of the treatment group (89 percent) held liquid assets compared with the control group (82 percent) and the amount of liquid asset holdings, which does not include match funds from the program, was also higher for the treatment group ($3,104, compared to $2,305 for the control group).
  • Some evidence that AFI reduced material hardship. The treatment group experienced a 34 percent decline in total number of hardships; 38 percent decline in number of times unable to pay utility bill; and 16 percent decline in likelihood of medical hardship.
  • AFI improved perceived financial security. The treatment group was more confident that they can meet monthly living expenses (10 percent increase in average score). More members of the treatment group said that their financial situation has “gotten better;” fewer said their financial situation has “gotten worse.”

Download the full report below.

AFI Impact Evaluation (2008)

This study provided the first national estimates of the effects of individual development accounts (IDAs) on participants in the AFI program, based on a three-year longitudinal survey of 600 participants nationwide. The data source for the nonparticipant sample was the 2001 panel of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). This study found that AFI participants were:

  • 35 percent more likely to own homes.
  • 84 percent more likely to own businesses.
  • 95 percent more likely to have engaged in postsecondary education.

These estimates reflect the proportional difference in outcomes for AFI participants three years after program entry versus the outcomes for demographically matched nonparticipants.

Download the Executive Summary or the full report below.

AFI Process Study (2008)

The objective of this study, which began in 2001, was to explore how AFI projects were planned, implemented, and operated. The study provided key findings from case studies on 14 AFI projects selected to encompass wide variation in project characteristics and local settings. The study report discusses the differing approaches grantees used to address seven common challenges:

  • Raising nonfederal funds;
  • Achieving administrative efficiencies;
  • Forging organizational partnerships;
  • Recruiting and selecting participants;
  • Providing financial education;
  • Supporting program participants; and
  • Adapting to feedback and shifting conditions.

Download the Executive Summary or the full report below.

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