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Cumulative receipt of an anti-poverty tax credit for families did not impact tobacco smoking among parents


  • Pega, Frank
  • Gilsanz, Paola
  • Kawachi, Ichiro
  • Wilson, Nick
  • Blakely, Tony


The effect of anti-poverty tax credit interventions on tobacco consumption is unclear. Previous studies have estimated short-term effects, did not isolate the effects of cumulative dose of tax credits, produced conflicting results, and used methods with limited control for some time-varying confounders (e.g., those affected by prior treatment) and treatment regimen (i.e., study participants' tax credit receipt pattern over time). We estimated the longer-term, cumulative effect of New Zealand's Family Tax Credit (FTC) on tobacco consumption, using a natural experiment (administrative errors leading to exogenous variation in FTC receipt) and methods specifically for controlling confounding, reverse causation, and treatment regimen. We extracted seven waves (2002–2009) of the nationally representative Survey of Family, Income and Employment including 4404 working-age (18–65 years) parents in families. The exposure was the total numbers of years of receiving FTC. The outcomes were regular smoking and the average daily number of cigarettes usually smoked at wave 7. We estimated average treatment effects using inverse probability of treatment weighting and marginal structural modelling. Each additional year of receiving FTC affected neither the odds of regular tobacco smoking among all parents (odds ratio 1.02, 95% confidence interval 0.94–1.11), nor the number of cigarettes smoked among parents who smoked regularly (rate ratio 1.01, 95% confidence interval 0.99–1.03). We found no evidence for an association between the cumulative number of years of receiving an anti-poverty tax credit and tobacco smoking or consumption among parents. The assumptions of marginal structural modelling are quite demanding, and we therefore cannot rule out residual confounding. Nonetheless, our results suggest that tax credit programme participation will not increase tobacco consumption among poor parents, at least in this high-income country.

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  • Pega, Frank & Gilsanz, Paola & Kawachi, Ichiro & Wilson, Nick & Blakely, Tony, 2017. "Cumulative receipt of an anti-poverty tax credit for families did not impact tobacco smoking among parents," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 160-165.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:179:y:2017:i:c:p:160-165
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597, July.
    2. David K. Evans & Anna Popova, 2017. "Cash Transfers and Temptation Goods," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(2), pages 189-221.
    3. Pega, Frank & Carter, Kristie & Kawachi, Ichiro & Davis, Peter & Blakely, Tony, 2014. "The impact of an unconditional tax credit for families on self-rated health in adults: Further evidence from the cohort study of 6900 New Zealanders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 115-119.
    4. Susan Averett & Yang Wang, 2013. "The Effects Of Earned Income Tax Credit Payment Expansion On Maternal Smoking," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(11), pages 1344-1359, November.
    5. Marito Garcia & Charity M. T. Moore, 2012. "The Cash Dividend : The Rise of Cash Transfer Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2246, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Markowitz, Sara & Komro, Kelli A. & Livingston, Melvin D. & Lenhart, Otto & Wagenaar, Alexander C., 2017. "Effects of state-level Earned Income Tax Credit laws in the U.S. on maternal health behaviors and infant health outcomes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 67-75.
    2. Otto Lenhart, 2019. "The effects of income on health: new evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 377-410, June.

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