While Earned Income Tax Credit expansions are typically associated with improvements in maternal mental health, little is known about the mechanisms through which the program affects this outcome. Anuj Gangopadhyaya, Fredric Blavin, Jason Gates, and Breno Braga of the Urban Institute assess the impact of more than two decades of federal expansions in EITC credits and the implementation of state-specific EITC programs on maternal mental health in a new working paper.
Income and Wealth
California was the first state to enact a paid family leave entitlement in 2002, providing eligible workers up to six weeks of paid leave. Jessica E. Pac, Ann P. Bartel, and Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University, and Christopher J. Ruhm of the University of Virginia evaluated the effect of the policy on breastfeeding in this National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper.
William H. Dow, Anna Godoey, Christopher Lowenstein and Michael Reich released a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper investigating whether “deaths of despair” respond to two key policies that raise incomes for low-wage workers: the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Despite efforts to rigorously analyze various effects of changes to minimum wages, the research community has largely neglected the link to child development. Changes in the minimum wage may have consequences that go far beyond employment and earnings, but there is almost nothing known about these potential effects.
Using data from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and other publicly available datasets, the research team will investigate:
In the U.S., the key challenge for many households is housing affordability. Households paying more than one-half of a limited total income for rent have very little left over for food, transportation, education, and other critical expenses. And these rent burdens have only been growing. In 1960, fewer than one in four renters was rent-burdened (or paid more than 30 percent of their income on rent); today that fraction is nearly half.
In 2017, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton coined the phrase “deaths of despair” to describe a troubling rise of Americans dying from suicide, drugs (including opioids) and alcoholism. Experts across the country are now attempting to tease apart the complex factors driving these trends, but until now, no one has examined the potentially causal effects of decreases in real minimum wages in relation to this trend or the potential benefits of rising minimum wages in counteracting other drivers of this trend, despite a strong evidence base linking income and health.
Transfers and work supports such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) increase family resources, and may enable households to make critical investments in their members’ health and human capital. Yet not all eligible households claim this tax credit, losing out on income support that can have potentially large effects on health, education, and other dimensions of well-being of family members.
Research has shown the crucial importance of household income in shaping child health, but we have limited understanding of the actual health impacts of high profile income-related policies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Furthermore, state-level initiatives in this domain are particularly active and promising for future innovation. In this study, the research team will first investigate the multi-dimensional child health effects of state EITC expansions.