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Episode 106 - Dr. Yunju Nam: Asset-Based Policy: A New Direction in Social Welfare Policy

Monday, October 29, 2012, 9:30:50 AM

Image of Dr. Yunju Nam

In this episode, Dr. Yunju Nam describes her research in Asset-Based Policy, an alternative to our current income maintenance policies that attempt to respond to the needs of social welfare recipients. She describes how this new paradigm addresses the long term needs of persons living in or near poverty. In addition, Dr. Nam discusses the psychological benefit that asset ownership has on a person's hope, motivation, and quality of life.

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Average Rating: 5stars  insightful and informative , Saturday, February 02, 2013

By Eric Todd :

The podcast interview with Dr. Yunju Nam was of particular interest to me. I am an MSW student at the University at Buffalo. I also work at Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York, where my colleagues administer an Individual Development Account (IDA) Program. This program provides a four-to-one match of individual savings to be used to open a business or to buy a house. I get to see the psychological effects of asset based policies first-hand. I can think of one couple who recently closed on their first home with assistance from our IDA program. Dr. Yunji Nam points out the inter-generational effect of asset based policy. This couple was so proud of their achievements and even prouder of the fact that they could pass this investment along to their children some day. I met another one of our clients who opened up a take-out restaurant using funds from an IDA. She was also very proud of her accomplishments and was delighted when a group of employees at Belmont ordered lunch from her. Dr. Nam makes excellent points about how asset based policies are a better fit for our modern day economy. People are out of work for longer amounts of time and children can no longer afford to forego a college education in order to financially assist the household. At Belmont we also administer the section 8 rental assistance program which assists many local families with their rent. The problem is that there is not enough money to satisfy the need, and many families are not able to get back on their feet just with rental assistance. It is when rental assistance is paired with financial education and asset building that we see the most success with these families. I hope to hear more from Dr. Nam on this podcast series, and I plan to take at least one class with her before I graduate.


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Average Rating: 5stars  a proposal for reform, Sunday, January 27, 2013

By F. Paul Muccigrosso II :

After having had a twenty-five year career in the financial services industry, I found Dr. Nam’s podcast to be particularly interesting to me. I visited briefly with Dr. Nam after having listened to this podcast and shared some of these ideas directly with her.

Families and individuals who are able to save and invest their money wisely throughout their lives should be rewarded for their prudence and discipline. Oftentimes, this reward comes in the form of asset appreciation and in the case of retirement accounts, this reward can be the difference between a comfortable retirement or one that is less comfortable. What Dr. Nam illustrates in her podcast is that many of the financial policies of the US may be in need of reform. She highlights the changing economic environment together with the growing division between asset equality and income equity to support the call for change. The current methodology of governing social welfare programs, federal and state income and estate tax and availability of selective programs seems to be punitive rather than rewarding. In difficult economic times, families who use their savings as a way to help maintain a household or the education costs of their children or continue to fund future retirement accounts should not be penalized for making such a commitment. Asset based policy reform might better serve the US public by creating tax incentives that amplify the desire to save and invest and pursue individual home ownership. In the US, there is less incentive for low income and underemployed individuals and families to make such investments in part, because by doing so, the level of social welfare qualification is diminished or eliminated altogether. A change in the legislation of social welfare programs and increasing the allowances for favorable tax positioning for those of a lower socioeconomic status can produce results that help to encourage asset accumulation, a stronger community and a healthier economy.


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Average Rating: 5stars  asset based policy response, Sunday, January 27, 2013

By Zachary Magee :

This episode was vastly informative, and spoke to limitations of contemporary governmental approaches to controlling poverty. Income maintenance approach, while still an important aspect of stabilization was designed when a high school diploma was sufficient to attain a middle class lifestyle. Today’s economic market does not help those without secondary education. Lack of opportunities can reflect the vast inequality of income. I found it interesting that the short term function of income maintenance approach doesn’t allow people to construct a foundation from which to lift themselves from poverty; it simply allows maintains a status quo. Dr. Nam pointed out that asset based policy emphasizes the importance of an ability to save money, opportunity to learn from risk-taking ventures, and how these factors encourage financial independence. This perspective seems more useful today, in a job market that requires expensive secondary education, eliminating the middle class as a result. The psychological impact of asset ownership is a fascinating subject. Dr. Nam mentions that asset ownership can have an affect on peoples’ motivation and optimism. Asset based policy, according to Dr. Nam, does more than contemporary practice to educate low income families on how to best utilize resources they have by offering them the opportunities to make their own decisions with their money. With more such opportunities, there is an increase in rates of saving and ability to attend college. I have had the opportunity to make home visits to conduct social histories for the public school district. While homes vary in terms of assets in general, if the home had one material asset in view, it is usually a large, expensive television. Maybe having such an asset representing economic well-being and luxury helps families’ feelings of security and stability. I enjoyed listening to this interview, and I look forward to seeing how the evolution of this aspect of social welfare unfolds.


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Average Rating: 5stars  review of asset-based policy podcast, Friday, January 25, 2013

By Elizabeth Hole :

I found this podcast on asset-based social policy to be informative and exciting in that the prospect of long-term asset ownership has the potential to enhance quality of life for many individuals and families, especially those of low-income. This type of research is especially relevant given the current state of increasing gaps between the poor and wealthy in America. I found it interesting that median net wealth in the United States has decreased 35% from 2005 to 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau). Asset ownership is particularly important for people approaching retirement age, especially in an unstable economy. One of the most interesting outcomes of asset ownership discussed by Dr. Nam is the sense of empowerment and enhanced quality of life that is achieved, especially for low income individuals and families. However it would seem that while asset ownership is beneficial in many ways, it may lead to ineligibility for public assistance and other means-tested programs. Dr. Nam touched on the fact that families who build assets may become ineligible for programs such as TANF which would place the family in a precarious financial situation and would ultimately lead to liquidation of any assets saved. Therefore one of the barriers to increased asset-ownership is existing policy. It is clear that income-maintenance policies alone have not been successful in helping families and individuals to escape from chronic poverty. The implications of asset based social policy are vast. If families and individuals are able to build assets, there will be increased potential to invest money in children’s education and home ownership, improving quality of life and increasing the likelihood of economic stability for children as they enter adulthood as well as motivating them for future financial management. This was a very interesting Podcast!


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