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Financial Incentives for Increasing Work and Income Among Low-Income Families

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  • Rebecca M. Blank
  • David Card
  • Philip K. Robins

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of financial incentive programs, which have become an increasingly common component of welfare programs. We review experimental evidence from several such programs. Financial incentive programs appear to increase work and raise income (lower poverty), but cost somewhat more than alternative welfare programs. In particular, windfall beneficiaries -- those who would have been working anyway -- can raise costs by participating in the program. Several existing programs limit this effect by targeting long-term welfare recipients or by limiting benefits to full-time workers. At the same time, because financial incentive programs transfer support to working low-income families, the increase in costs due to windfall beneficiaries makes these programs more effective at alleviating poverty and raising incomes. Evidence also indicates that combining financial incentive programs with job search and job support services can increase both employment and income gains. Non-experimental evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and from state Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs with enhanced earnings disregards also suggests that these programs increase employment, and this evidence is consistent with the experimental evidence on the impact of financial incentive programs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 69.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:69

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References

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  1. Daniel Friedlander & David H. Greenberg & Philip K. Robins, 1997. "Evaluating Government Training Programs for the Economically Disadvantaged," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(4), pages 1809-1855, December.
  2. Nada Eissa & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1995. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 5158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  4. Nada Eissa & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1998. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," NBER Working Papers 6856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lara D. Shore-Sheppard, 2005. "Stemming the Tide? The Effect of Expanding Medicaid Eligibility on Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 11091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lara Shore-Sheppard, 1996. "Stemming the Tide? The Effect of Expanding Medicaid Eligibility on Health Insurance Coverage," Working Papers 740, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Philip K. Robins, 1985. "A Comparison of the Labor Supply Findings from the Four Negative Income Tax Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 567-582.
  8. Irwin Garfinkel & Philip K. Robins & Pat Wong & Daniel R. Meyer, 1990. "The Wisconsin Child Support Assurance System: Estimated Effects on Poverty, Labor Supply, Caseloads, and Costs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(1), pages 1-31.
  9. Rebecca M. Blank & Patricia Ruggles, 1993. "When Do Women Use AFDC & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation," NBER Working Papers 4429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Incentives and Income Distribution," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 12, pages 83-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael C. Keeley & Philip K. Robins & Robert G. Spiegelman & Richard W. West, 1978. "The Labor-Supply Effects and Costs of Alternative Negative Income Tax Programs," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 13(1), pages 3-36.
  12. Robert A. Moffitt, 1996. "The effect of employment and training programs on entry and exit from the welfare caseload," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(1), pages 32-50.
  13. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-35, December.
  14. Card, David & Robins, Philip K., 2005. "How important are "entry effects" in financial incentive programs for welfare recipients? Experimental evidence from the Self-Sufficiency Project," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 113-139.
  15. Saul D. Hoffman & Laurence S. Seidman, 1990. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number eitc, December.
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