Baby Bonds are an increasingly popular government policy in which every child born into poverty receives a publicly funded trust account at birth, providing them with “start-up capital” to pursue fulfilling, productive, prosperous, and self-directed lives.
Follow our Baby Blogs series to learn about the vision, politics, and people behind Baby Bonds and their transformative impact on the lives of young people, their families, and communities.
The specific goals of Baby Bonds are:
Wealth Equity: By providing an initial financial endowment to all children, especially those born into poverty, Baby Bonds aim to reduce wealth inequality and promote a more equitable distribution of resources. This approach seeks to balance the advantages that children from affluent families may have in terms of access to education, housing, entrepreneurship, and other opportunities.
Economic Mobility: Baby Bonds aim to enhance economic mobility, especially for children born into lower-income households, by providing individuals with a financial endowment at the start of their adult lives to invest in education, start a business, own a home, or pursue other opportunities that foster upward mobility.
Long-Term Asset Accumulation: The long-term investment and growth of the initial endowment can allow individuals to accumulate assets over time, providing a safety net and resources for future endeavors. This approach aims to break the cycle of poverty and create a more inclusive economy that facilitates the resources for people to live self-directed, fulfilling, and prosperous lives, independent of race, income, geography, and other social identities in which they are born.
Baby Bonds are part of a broader policy discussion surrounding the role of the government in addressing income and wealth disparities and promoting social and economic equality.
Reports and Publications
By David Radcliffe, Darrick Hamilton, and Shira Markoff
Over the past several years, Baby Bonds—publicly funded child trust accounts designed to address racial/ethnic wealth inequality—have gained momentum at the state and local levels. Connecticut and Washington, DC passed the first Baby Bonds policies in 2021 and several other states have proposed legislation. Presented by the Institute and Prosperity Now, this paper provides guidance and context for elected officials, policymakers and advocates to help them craft effective state-and local-level Baby Bonds proposals. It lays out the essential elements to include in state- and local-level Baby Bonds legislation and key design considerations for programs, describes how Baby Bonds complement policies that address the more immediate financial needs of households with low incomes, and discusses how to align state and local proposals with a potential national Baby Bonds program.
The original version of this paper was drafted in late 2021 and published in January 2022, when states were just beginning to discuss and pass the first pieces of Baby Bonds legislation. Since then, Connecticut and DC have started to implement their programs, and a host of other states have had task forces, advisory groups and lengthy policy debates focused on Baby Bonds legislation. This updated version covers much of the same ground as the original version but also reflects learnings from the field over the past two years.
"Why This Economist Wants to Give Every Poor Child $50,000": Talking Baby Bonds with Ezra Klein
In this interview for The New York Times, Darrick Hamilton joined The Ezra Klein Show to discuss how policy shapes the structure of wealth in the U.S., and how tools like Baby Bonds can be used to foster economic and racial equity. Read more >>
A Promise Kept: Baby Bonds Triumph in Connecticut
In 2023, Connecticut became the first state in the country to pass and fully fund Baby Bonds legislation. In this op-ed for Connecticut Post, founding director Darrick Hamilton and Shawn T. Wooden, former treasurer for the state of Connecticut, wrote about the significance of the Connecticut Baby Bonds Trust. Read more >>