Breaking Down Barriers to Financial Well-being

Photo of Laura Choi and David Erickson, SF Fed Community Development

Millions of American households face significant obstacles in achieving financial health. Some experts believe that overcoming them today requires a shift away from traditional models and that creative thinking can pave the way to better outcomes. What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities and the Nation, a new book from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Corporation for Enterprise Development, explores these themes in detail.

The collection of more than thirty essays looks at challenges entrenched within the economy, financial services system, education, health, demographic, and other sources of financial struggle. In their essay, Toward a New Business Model, Laura Choi and Dr. David Erickson from SF Fed Community Development discuss how strengthening families helps both communities and the nation.

“Household financial well-being is a useful organizing principle. It allows different sectors to begin aligning their work,” says Erickson. “By collectively recognizing that financial well-being is often at the root of the myriad challenges other sectors work to solve over the long term, we can begin unifying around a common understanding of the next step forward.”

What it comes down to for the authors is that the American economy is only as strong as its households. When families struggle, there’s an effect at the local level and one that radiates out to the nation. They encourage using a collective approach to tackling poverty in order to put more families on the path to financial well-being.

“In the book we look at some of the more innovative work being done in education, health, housing, justice, and other sectors that are really making a difference,” says Choi. “But the most important thing we’re trying to get across is that there are concrete ways for nearly everyone to adopt proven solutions as well as those showing a lot of promise.”

Visit the What It’s Worth website for details about the book, its contributors, and issues being explored, or to order a print version.

Download the book (pdf, 4.67 mb)

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The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.