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The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence

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Author Info

  • Francesconi, Marco

    ()
    (University of Essex)

  • Rainer, Helmut

    ()
    (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • van der Klaauw, Wilbert

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of the Working Families’ Tax Credit (WFTC) on couples in Britain. We develop a simple model of household decisions which explicitly accounts for the role played by the tax and benefit system. Its main implications are then tested using panel data from the British Household Panel Survey collected between 1991 and 2002. Overall, the financial incentives of the reform had negligible effects on a wide range of married mothers’ decisions, such as eligible (working at least 16 hours per week) and full-time employment (working at least 30 hours per week), employment transitions, childcare use, and divorce rates. Women’s responses, however, were highly heterogeneous, depending on their partners’ labour supply and earnings. Mothers married to low-income men showed larger responses in employment, especially if they had younger children. They were more likely to remain in the labour force and had higher rates at which they entered it. While more likely to receive the tax credit, they also experienced a greater risk of divorce. We find virtually no effect for women with higher-income husbands. Likewise, there are no statistically significant responses among married men.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2980.

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Length: 75 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 119 (535), 2009, F66 - F100
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2980

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Keywords: divorce; intrahousehold bargaining; household labour supply; tax credit;

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References

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  1. Jeffrey Grogger & LynnA. Karoly, 2009. "The Effects of Work-Conditioned Transfers on Marriage and Child Well-Being: A Review," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F15-F37, 02.
  2. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
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  5. Blundell, Richard & Chiappori, Pierre-André & Magnac, Thierry & Meghir, Costas, 2005. "Collective Labour Supply: Heterogeneity and Nonparticipation," IDEI Working Papers 373, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  6. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents Employment in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/072, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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  9. Hilary Hoynes & Richard Blundell, 2001. "Has "In-Work" Benefit Reform Helped the Labour Market?," NBER Working Papers 8546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2007. "Endogenous gender power, household labor supply and the demographic transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 138-155, January.
  16. Del Boca, Daniela & Flinn, Christopher J, 1995. "Rationalizing Child-Support Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1241-62, December.
  17. Mike Brewer & Marco Francesconi & Paul Gregg & Jeffrey Grogger, 2009. "Feature: In-work Benefit Reform in a Cross-National Perspective - Introduction," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F1-F14, 02.
  18. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  19. 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.
  20. Clark, Simon, 1999. "Law, Property, and Marital Dissolution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C41-54, March.
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  24. Marco Francesconi & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2007. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of "In-Work" Benefit Reform for British Lone Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jeffrey Grogger & Lynn Karoly, 2007. "The Effects of Work-Conditioned Transfers on Marriage and Child Well-Being: A Review," NBER Working Papers 13485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richard Blundell & Marco Francesconi & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2011. "Anatomy of Welfare Reform Evaluation:Announcement and Implementation Effects," Economics Discussion Papers 698, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  3. Marco Francesconi & Helmut Rainer & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2009. "Unintended Consequences of Welfare Reform: The Case of Divorced Parents," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 0901, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  4. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & Klaauw,, 2013. "Unintended consequences of welfare reform for children with single parents: a theoretical analysis," Munich Reprints in Economics 20333, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2013. "Female Labour Supply, Human Capital and Welfare Reform," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 21, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  6. Ghazala Azmat, 2014. "Evaluating the effectiveness of in-work tax credits," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 397-425, March.
  7. Helmut Rainer & Stefan Bauernschuster & Natalia Danzer & Anita Fichtl & Timo Hener & Christian Holzner & Janina Reinkowski, 2013. "Kindergeld und Kinderfreibeträge in Deutschland: Evaluierung der Auswirkungen auf familienpolitische Ziele," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 66(09), pages 28-36, 04.
  8. Blau, David M. & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2010. "What Determines Family Structure?," IZA Discussion Papers 4912, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2011. "The long-term effects of in-work benefits in a life-cycle model for policy evaluation," CeMMAP working papers CWP07/11, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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