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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Rural Families: Differences between Participants and Non-participants


  • Sheila Mammen

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Frances C. Lawrence

    () (School of Human Ecology, Louisiana State University)

  • Peter St. Marie

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Ann A. Berry

    () (University of Tennessee Knoxville)

  • Suzanne Enzian Knight

    () (Family Resource Management, University of New Hampshire Durham)


The differences between rural low-income mothers who were participants and non-participants in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) were examined. One-third of the 224 eligible mothers in a multi-state study did not claim the tax credit. Non-participants were more likely to be Hispanic, less educated, with larger families, borrowing money from family, and living in more rural counties. Participating mothers, on the other hand, were more food secure, perceived their household income as being adequate, reported recent improvements in their economic situation, were satisfied with life, and lived in states with a state EITC. Analysis of qualitative data revealed that rural mothers had many misconceptions about the EITC. These findings contribute to family and economic professionals’ understanding of why rural low-income families do not participate in the tax credit and assist in formulating policies and education/outreach efforts that would increase their participation

Suggested Citation

  • Sheila Mammen & Frances C. Lawrence & Peter St. Marie & Ann A. Berry & Suzanne Enzian Knight, 2009. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and Rural Families: Differences between Participants and Non-participants," Working Papers 2009-1, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2009-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scholz, John Karl, 1994. "The Earned Income Credit: Participation, Compliance, and Antipoverty Effectiveness," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(1), pages 63-87, March.
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    More about this item


    EITC non-participants; EITC participants; rural low-income mothers; state EITC; rural low-income families;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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