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New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth

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  • Sara LaLumia
  • James M. Sallee
  • Nicholas Turner

Abstract

This paper uses data from the universe of tax returns filed between 2001 and 2010 to test whether parents shift the timing of childbirth around the New Year to gain tax benefits. Filers have an incentive to shift births from early January into late December, through induction or cesarean delivery, because child-related tax benefits are not prorated. We find evidence of a positive, but very small, effect of tax incentives on birth timing. An additional $1,000 of tax benefits increases the probability of a late-December birth by only about 1 percentage point. We argue that the response to tax incentives is small in part because of confusion about eligibility and delays in the issuance of Social Security numbers for newborns, as well as a lack of control over medical procedures on the part of filers with the highest tax values. In contrast to this small behavioral response, we do document a substantial reporting response among self-employed parents facing changes in the Earned Income Tax Credit as a result of a child's birth. We estimate that this reporting response reduces federal revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars per year. (JEL H24, H31, J13, J23)

Suggested Citation

  • Sara LaLumia & James M. Sallee & Nicholas Turner, 2015. "New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 258-293, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:7:y:2015:i:2:p:258-93
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20130243
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Damian Clarke & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2016. "The Demand for Season of Birth," Working Papers 2016-032, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    2. Jeffrey T. Denning, 2017. "Born Under a Lucky Star: Financial Aid, College Completion, Labor Supply, and Credit Constraints," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 17-267, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    3. Huzeyfe Torun & Semih Tumen, 2017. "The empirical content of season-of-birth effects: An investigation with Turkish data," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 37(57), pages 1825-1860, December.
    4. Sara LaLumia & James M. Sallee & Nicholas Turner, 2015. "New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 258-293, May.
    5. Joshua Gottlieb & Richard Townsend & Ting Xu, 2016. "Experimenting with Entrepreneurship: The Effect of Job-Protected Leave," Working Papers id:11142, eSocialSciences.
    6. Janice Compton & Lindsay M. Tedds, 2016. "Effects of the 2001 Extension of Paid Parental Leave Provisions on Birth Seasonality in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(1), pages 65-82, March.
    7. Wael S. Moussa, 2017. "Closer to the Finish Line? Compulsory Attendance, Grade Attainment, and High School Graduation," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(1), pages 28-53, Winter.
    8. Apostolova-Mihaylova, Maria & Yelowitz, Aaron, 2015. "Health Insurance, Fertility, and the Wantedness of Pregnancies: Evidence from Massachusetts," MPRA Paper 61237, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Schulkind, Lisa & Shapiro, Teny Maghakian, 2014. "What a difference a day makes: Quantifying the effects of birth timing manipulation on infant health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 139-158.
    10. Bischof, T.; Schmid, C.P.R.;, "undated". "Consumer Price Sensitivity and Health Plan Choice in a Regulated Competition Setting," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/16, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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