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The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Gordon B. Dahl
  • Lance Lochner

Using an instrumental variables strategy, we estimate the causal effect of income on children's math and reading achievement. Our identification derives from the large, nonlinear changes in the Earned Income Tax Credit. The largest of these changes increased family income by as much as 20 percent, or approximately $2,100, between 1993 and 1997. Our baseline estimates imply that a $1,000 increase in income raises combined math and reading test scores by 6 percent of a standard deviation in the short run. Test gains are larger for children from disadvantaged families and robust to a variety of alternative specifications. (JEL H24, H31, I21, I38, J13)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 5 (August)
Pages: 1927-56

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:5:p:1927-56
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  2. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Estimating Labor Supply Responses Using Tax Reforms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 827-862, July.
  3. Gordon B. Dahl & Lance Lochner, 2010. "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 20105, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  4. Sandra Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Working Paper Series 2004-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  6. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School, and Racial Test Score Gaps," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-136.
  7. Kevin Milligan & Mark Stabile, 2010. "Do child tax benefits affect the wellbeing of children? evidence from Canadian child benefit expansions," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58059, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  8. Hilary W. Hoynes & Nada Elissa, 2005. "Behavioral Responses to Taxes:Lessons from the EITC and Labor Supply," Working Papers 529, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  9. Gordon B. Dahl & Lance Lochner, 2005. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Løken, Katrine Vellesen, 2007. "Family income and children's education: Using the Norwegian oil boom as a natural experiment," Working Papers in Economics 03/07, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  13. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
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  16. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-96, December.
  17. Løken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne & Wiswall, Matthew, 2011. "What Linear Estimators Miss: The E ects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," Working Papers in Economics 02/11, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  18. Orazio Attanasio & Valérie Lechene, 2002. "Tests of Income Pooling in Household Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 720-748, October.
  19. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
  20. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  21. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren & David Sims, 2008. "The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains," NBER Working Papers 14065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Valerie Lechene & Orazio Attanasio, 2002. "Tests of Income Pooling in Household Decisions," Economics Series Working Papers 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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