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Evaluating the effectiveness of in-work tax credits

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  • Ghazala Azmat

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    Abstract

    One of the principle aims of the Working Families’ Tax Credit in the UK was to increase the participation of single mothers in work. The difference-in-differences methodology that is typically used to evaluate tax credit policies compares single mothers with single women without children. However, the characteristics of these groups are very different, and changes over time in relative covariates are likely to violate key identifying assumptions. We find that when we control for differential trends between women with and without children, the employment effect of the policy falls significantly. Moreover, closer inspection shows that while there was an effect on increasing the likelihood to work full-time (30 h or more), there was no effect on reducing the likelihood to be inactive. Looking closely at important covariates before and after the policy introduction, we can see sizeable changes in the relative returns to employment between the treatment and control groups, making it difficult to assess the policy effectiveness. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Empirical Economics.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 397-425

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:46:y:2014:i:2:p:397-425

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    Related research

    Keywords: Tax credits; Difference-in-differences; Single mothers; Labor supply; I38; C14; J22;

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    References

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    1. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2007. "The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
    3. Duncan, Alan & Giles, Christopher, 1996. "Labour Supply Incentives and Recent Family Credit Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 142-55, January.
    4. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
    5. Nada Eissa & Austin Nichols, 2005. "Tax-Transfer Policy and Labor-Market Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 88-93, May.
    6. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness & Sarah Smith, 2007. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/182, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    7. Brewer, Mike & Duncan, Alan & Shephard, Andrew & Suarez, Maria Jose, 2006. "Did working families' tax credit work? The impact of in-work support on labour supply in Great Britain," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 699-720, December.
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