What You Don't Know Can't Help You: Lessons of Behavioural Economics for Tax-Based Student Aid
Canada’s federal and provincial governments spend a lot of money subsidizing postsecondary students. Tuition and education/textbook tax credits, in particular, cost the federal government around $1.6 billion in 2012 – a sum much greater than the net cost of the Canada Student Loan Program. These credits lower dramatically the cost of attending postsecondary education. Unlike other programs that support postsecondary education, there has not been a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of these tax measures, but there is good reason to conclude that they are poor policy. The immediate benefits of the credits go disproportionately to students from relatively well-off families, who are not relatively sensitive to the costs of postsecondary education, with students from lower-income families benefiting from them only after they have finished their education and have enough taxable income to claim the credit. Lessons from economics and from more recent innovations in behavioural economics emphasize that flaws in the design of postsecondary tax credits mean that they are unlikely to have any effect on youths’ decisions to undertake or cope with the costs of postsecondary education. A simple change to the tax credits – making them refundable instead of non-refundable – would go a long way to making them more efficient and equitable. Whereas a non-refundable tax credit can’t reduce the amount of tax owed to less than zero, a refundable tax credit can reduce your tax below zero and provide a refund. This change would provide a more immediate benefit to students from low-income families who need it most.
Volume (Year): (2013)
Issue (Month): 393 (November)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 67 Yonge St., Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1J8|
Phone: (416) 865-1904
Fax: (416) 865-1866
Web page: http://www.cdhowe.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Susan Dynarski & Judith Scott-Clayton & Mark Wiederspan, 2013.
"Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects,"
Tax Policy and the Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 161 - 202.
- Susan Dynarski & Judith Scott-Clayton & Mark Wiederspan, 2013. "Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 27, pages 161-201 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Susan Dynarski & Judith Scott-Clayton & Mark Wiederspan, 2013. "Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects," NBER Working Papers 18707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2005.
"Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block,"
NBER Working Papers
11680, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Esther Duflo & William Gale & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & Emmanuel Saez, 2006. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1311-1346.
- Duflo, Esther & Gale, William & Liebman, Jeff & Orszag, Peter & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," CEPR Discussion Papers 5332, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Emmanuel Saez & Esther Duflo & Jeffrey Liebman & Peter Orszag & William Gale, 2005. "Saving incentives for low- and middle-income families: Evidence from a field experiment with h&r block," Framed Field Experiments 00234, The Field Experiments Website.
- Michael B. Coelli, 2009. "Tuition fees and equality of university enrolment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 42(3), pages 1072-1099, August.
- Susan Dynarski, 2000.
"Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance,"
NBER Working Papers
7756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dynarski, Susan, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 3), pages 629-62, September.
- Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
- Neill, Christine, 2009. "Tuition fees and the demand for university places," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 561-570, October.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
- Philip Oreopoulos & Ryan Dunn, 2012.
"Information and College Access: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment,"
NBER Working Papers
18551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Philip Oreopoulos & Ryan Dunn, 2013. "Information and College Access: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(1), pages 3-26, 01.
- L. G. Hines, 1955. "Economics and the Public Interest," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(2), pages 108-119.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdh:commen:393. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kristine Gray)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.