Can the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Boost Child Health?

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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. 

Previous research has also shown that nutrition outcomes improve immediately after families receive monthly welfare benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (i.e., food stamps) and other safety net programs. Yet these benefits often fade before the next monthly benefit is received. Little research has examined the effects of timing of EITC receipt, and whether child health effects may similarly fade over time. Thus, the research team will also examine seasonal variation in child health as a result of EITC refunds received in the spring of each year (at tax time). They will examine self-reported health outcomes that are likely to change, including food insecurity and mental health. This research will be important for understanding how alternative design and timing of EITC receipt could potentially help the program be even more effective at supporting working families and the health of their children.

Principal Investigator: Rita Hamad, University of California, San Francisco