Skip to main content
Back to Top

SSRC Library

The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

Writing a paper? Working on a literature review? Citing research in a funding proposal? Use the SSRC Citation Assistance Tool to compile citations.

  • Conduct a search and filter parameters as desired.
  • "Check" the box next to the resources for which you would like a citation.
  • Select "Download Selected Citation" at the top of the Library Search Page.
  • Select your export style:
    • Text File.
    • RIS Format.
    • APA format.
  • Select submit and download your citations.

The SSRC Library includes resources which may be available only via journal subscription. The SSRC may be able to provide users without subscription access to a particular journal with a single use copy of the full text.  Please email the SSRC with your request.

The SSRC Library collection is constantly growing and new research is added regularly. We welcome our users to submit a library item to help us grow our collection in response to your needs.


  • Individual Author: Azurdia, Gilda; Freedman, Stephen; Hamilton, Gayle; Schultz, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2013

    Many people do not save enough money to help them manage sudden losses of income or sudden increases in expenditures. Faced with the need to raise cash immediately, they often resort to alternative, high-interest sources of credit, such as payday loans and credit cards, that may trap them in a costly cycle of debt. Currently, few programs help low- and moderate-income individuals save for emergencies, and studies of the effects of such unrestricted, short-term savings programs are rare. 

    What would happen if low- and moderate-income individuals were offered an incen­tive to save, coupled with a convenient opportunity to take advantage of the in­centive? To find out, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) developed the SaveUSA program, a tax-time matched savings program, which is being replicated in additional sites by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and OFE. SaveUSA focuses on tax-time savings be­cause tax refunds, supported by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits, typically...

    Many people do not save enough money to help them manage sudden losses of income or sudden increases in expenditures. Faced with the need to raise cash immediately, they often resort to alternative, high-interest sources of credit, such as payday loans and credit cards, that may trap them in a costly cycle of debt. Currently, few programs help low- and moderate-income individuals save for emergencies, and studies of the effects of such unrestricted, short-term savings programs are rare. 

    What would happen if low- and moderate-income individuals were offered an incen­tive to save, coupled with a convenient opportunity to take advantage of the in­centive? To find out, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) developed the SaveUSA program, a tax-time matched savings program, which is being replicated in additional sites by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and OFE. SaveUSA focuses on tax-time savings be­cause tax refunds, supported by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits, typically constitute the largest source of cash that low- and moderate-income individuals receive at any one time. SaveUSA encourages eligible tax filers to deposit a portion of their tax refund directly into a matched savings account that they can later use to pay for unexpected or emergency expenses or for any other purpose. 

    Does this strategy work? To find out, MDRC is conducting a randomized control trial to test the effects of SaveUSA on a variety of outcomes. The evaluation will show whether short-term incentivized savings can lead to longer-term savings habits, reduce material hardships, and improve the overall financial well-being of participants. If the results are positive, they will support ongoing efforts to implement similar savings incentives, such as a current policy proposal to embed a “Financial Security Credit” in the federal tax code. 

    What Is the SaveUSA Program?

    SaveUSA replicates a program called $aveNYC that was piloted in New York City between 2008 and 2011. During 2009 and 2010, $aveNYC’s primary years of operation, the program enrolled an average of 1,255 tax filers per year. Over 90 percent of those enrollees deposited tax refund dollars in their $aveNYC savings account and nearly three-quarters of enrollees (or 80 percent of depositors) maintained their deposits for about a year and received the savings match. A study of $aveNYC conducted by the Center for Community Capital at the University of North Carolina found that when they entered the program, 18 percent of $aveNYC par­ticipants had no bank account and 26 percent reported having no savings. 

    The SaveUSA program was operated during the tax seasons of 2011 through 2013. It builds on the free tax-preparation services provided by participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) organizations in four cities: New York City, Tulsa, Newark, and San Antonio. SaveUSA offers both single filers and couples who file jointly the opportunity to open a SaveUSA account at a local financial institution by directly deposit­ing a portion of their tax refund into a special savings account. Participants earn a matching incentive payment if they leave their savings untouched for about one year. 

    To be eligible for the SaveUSA program, tax filers must be at least 18 years old and meet certain income requirements ($50,000 or less for filers with dependents and $25,000 or less for filers without dependents). When preparing their tax returns, SaveUSA participants instruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state taxing agency to deposit at least $200 from their tax refund directly into a special savings ac­count. Participants also pledge to keep a certain amount of their initial deposit, from $200 to $1,000, in the account for approximately one year. Participants who fulfill this pledge receive a 50 percent savings match, up to $500. 

    Account holders whose balances drop below their pledge amounts at any time during the follow-up year lose their eligibility for a match, even if they subsequently replace the funds. They incur no further penalty for withdrawing the funds, however. 

    During the next tax season, all account holders who have their taxes prepared at a participat­ing VITA site — those who end up qualifying for a match and those who do not — may again deposit tax refund dollars directly into their SaveUSA accounts and become eligible to receive another 50 percent match. 

    This policy brief offers early implementation findings, including recruitment and account enrollment results, from MDRC’s evaluation of SaveUSA. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Azurdia, Gilda; Freedman, Stephen; Hamilton, Gayle; Schultz, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2014

    SaveUSA, a voluntary program launched in 2011 in four cities (New York City, Tulsa, San Antonio, and Newark), encourages low- and moderate-income individuals to set aside money from their tax refund for savings. Tax filers at participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites can directly deposit all or a portion of their tax refund into a special savings account, set up by a bank or credit union, and pledge to save between $200 and $1,000 of their deposit for about a year. Money can be withdrawn from SaveUSA accounts at any time and for any purpose, but only those who maintain their initially pledged savings amount throughout a full year receive a 50 percent match on that amount. Account holders, irrespective of match receipt, can deposit tax refund dollars in subsequent years and become eligible to receive additional savings matches on their new tax refund deposits.

    This report presents findings on SaveUSA’s implementation in all four cities and its early effects on savings and other financial outcomes in two cities: New York City and Tulsa. In these latter...

    SaveUSA, a voluntary program launched in 2011 in four cities (New York City, Tulsa, San Antonio, and Newark), encourages low- and moderate-income individuals to set aside money from their tax refund for savings. Tax filers at participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites can directly deposit all or a portion of their tax refund into a special savings account, set up by a bank or credit union, and pledge to save between $200 and $1,000 of their deposit for about a year. Money can be withdrawn from SaveUSA accounts at any time and for any purpose, but only those who maintain their initially pledged savings amount throughout a full year receive a 50 percent match on that amount. Account holders, irrespective of match receipt, can deposit tax refund dollars in subsequent years and become eligible to receive additional savings matches on their new tax refund deposits.

    This report presents findings on SaveUSA’s implementation in all four cities and its early effects on savings and other financial outcomes in two cities: New York City and Tulsa. In these latter cities, a randomly selected half of the tax filers who were interested in SaveUSA in 2011 could open accounts (the “SaveUSA group”), but the other half could not (the control group). The report compares the savings and other financial behaviors of the two groups over time to estimate SaveUSA’s effects. The findings thus suggest the effects that savings policies structured similarly to SaveUSA might have.

    SaveUSA’s operation and evaluation are funded through the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a public/private partnership administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. This particular SIF project is led by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) in collaboration with MDRC. Matching funds required by the SIF were provided by several foundations and organizations. CEO, with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), which conceived and launched an early version of the model, leads SaveUSA operations; MDRC is conducting the program’s evaluation.

    Key Findings:

    •SaveUSA was implemented successfully in all four cities. During the first program year, individuals in the SaveUSA group directly deposited an average of $506 of their tax refunds into SaveUSA accounts.

    •About two-thirds of those in the SaveUSA group saved for about a year and received a first savings match, which averaged $291 among those who received it. About two-fifths of the SaveUSA group pledged to save part of their tax refund again in the program’s second year.

    •At the 18-month follow-up point, SaveUSA had increased the percentage of individuals with any short-term savings (by 7 percentage points) and increased the total amount of savings individuals held on average (by $512), compared with what they would have saved without the program. The program also had increased the proportion of those who expressed a continued commitment to save.

    •No effects were found on individuals’ amount of debt, material hardship, or other aspects of financial security over the 18-month follow-up period.

    A subsequent report in late 2015 will examine SaveUSA’s effects over 36 to 42 months and will present a much more complete assessment of whether SaveUSA can sustain savings and improve individuals’ overall financial well-being. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Schultz, Caroline; Elliot, Mark; McKernon, Signe-Mary; Lehman, Gretchen
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2016

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) includes presentations of findings from three programs intended to promote financial empowerment. Panelists discussed the implications of these findings for policy and practice in expanding economic opportunity.

    This video from the 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) includes presentations of findings from three programs intended to promote financial empowerment. Panelists discussed the implications of these findings for policy and practice in expanding economic opportunity.

Sort by

Topical Area(s)

Popular Searches

Source

Year

Year ranges from 2013 to 2016

Reference Type

Research Methodology

Geographic Focus