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Cash-on-Hand & College Enrollment: Evidence from Population Tax Data and Policy Nonlinearities

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  • Dayanand S. Manoli
  • Nicholas Turner
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    Abstract

    In this paper, we estimate the causal effects of tax refunds (cash-on-hand) on college enrollment using population-level administrative data from United States income tax returns. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in tax refunds around two kink points in the federal income tax code, including the first kink point in the Earned Income Tax Credit benefit schedule and the 15%-25% tax bracket kink point. Non-parametric graphical evidence suggests that differences in tax refunds across these tax kink points have meaningful effects on enrollment. Using a Regression Kink Design, our results indicate that a $1,000 increase in tax refunds received in the spring of the high school senior year increases college enrollment the next fall by roughly 2 to 3 percentage points. The magnitude of these effects, combined with less-than complete take-up of student aid, may be evidence that tax refunds relax credit constraints.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19836.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2014
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19836

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    1. Lance J. Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2010. "The Nature of Credit Constraints and Human Capital," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20101, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    2. Gordon B. Dahl & Lance Lochner, 2011. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20113, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    3. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Using Differences in Knowledge across Neighborhoods to Uncover the Impacts of the EITC on Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2683-2721, December.
    5. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision: A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20071, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    6. Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," NBER Working Papers 9108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. David E. Card & David S. Lee & Zhuan Pei & Andrea Weber, 2012. "Nonlinear Policy Rules and the Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects in a Generalized Regression Kink Design," NRN working papers 2012-14, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    8. Michael F. Lovenheim, 2011. "The Effect of Liquid Housing Wealth on College Enrollment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(4), pages 741 - 771.
    9. Helena Skyt Nielsen & Torben Sørensen & Christopher Taber, 2010. "Estimating the Effect of Student Aid on College Enrollment: Evidence from a Government Grant Policy Reform," NBER Chapters, in: Income Taxation, Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar (TAPES), pages 185-215 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    11. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
    12. Marc Gurgand & Adrien Lorenceau & Thomas Mélonio, 2011. "Student loans: Liquidity constraint and higher education in South Africa," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590898, HAL.
    13. Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Do Taxpayers Bunch at Kink Points?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 180-212, August.
    14. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-85, February.
    15. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
    16. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
    17. Turner, Nicholas, 2011. "The Effect Of Tax-Based Federal Student Aid On College Enrollment," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 64(3), pages 839-61, September.
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