Today, DPN has released our Social Wealth Funds policy kit—an open resource for legislators, advocates, journalists, and citizens to learn how states can establish social wealth funds (SWFs)—state-owned investment funds—to build public wealth and distribute public dividends to its citizens. The kit provides an overview of how to establish and run an SWF, as well as how states and nations across the globe are using SWFs to diversify their economies, support public programs, and reduce economic inequality.
During the pandemic, as essential workers labored in stressful and dangerous conditions, the net worth of the the world’s billionaires increased by trillions of dollars. The hard work of the people that kept grocery stores, hospitals, and other businesses open did not lead to many gains for them—rather, the profit they generated flowed to distant billionaires. A social wealth fund can be one piece of the puzzle to addressing wealth inequality and democratizing capital.
SWFs are essentially a collection of assets owned by the state, used to generate investment returns for the public. They take advantage of the powerful market mechanisms that have led to wealth inequality, directing them away from private profit and toward public benefits. Some funds, such as Alaska’s Permanent Fund, support a universal public dividend, a proven concept for reducing economic inequality. Others are used to support public programs, such as in the case of the Texas Permanent School Fund. And others focus on economic development, as is the case of Singapore’s Temasek. The key characteristic of all of them is that the public invests in the economy in some form—and then shares the benefits of that investment broadly with the public.
If you are a legislator, activist, expert, or journalist looking to help promote social wealth funds in your state, check out (and share) our kit — and please reach out!