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The Consequences of ‘In-Work’ Benefit Reform in Britain: New Evidence from Panel Data

  • Francesconi, Marco

    ()

    (University of Essex)

  • van der Klaauw, Wilbert

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

In October 1999, the British government enacted the Working Families’ Tax Credit, a generous tax credit aimed at encouraging work among low-income families with children. This paper uses longitudinal data collected between 1991 and 2001 to evaluate the effect of this reform on single mothers. We identify this impact by comparing changes in behavior of lone mothers to changes for single women without children. Our results show that the financial incentives of the reform had powerful effects on a wide range of lone mothers’ decisions. The reform led to a substantial increase in employment rates of about 7 percentage points, which was driven by both higher rates at which lone mothers remained in the labor force and higher rates at which they entered it. Women’s responses were highly heterogeneous, with larger effects for mothers with one pre-school aged child, and virtually no effect for mothers with multiple older children. The reform also led to significant reductions in single mothers’ subsequent fertility and in the rate at which they married. Our findings suggest that the generous childcare tax credit component of the reform played a key role in explaining the estimated employment responses. Finally, we find relatively large behavioral effects in anticipation of the actual reform, which emphasizes the importance of allowing for such effects in future evaluation research.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1248.

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Length: 74 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2007, 42 (1), 1-31
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1248
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  1. V. Joseph Hotz & John Karl Scholz, 2001. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 8078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mark B. Stewart, 2004. "The employment effects of the national minimum wage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages C110-C116, 03.
  3. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
  4. Scholz, John Karl, 1996. "In-Work Benefits in the United States: The Earned Income Tax Credit," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 156-69, January.
  5. Kirby, Simon & Riley, Rebecca, 2004. "Compulsory work-focused interviews for inactive benefit claimants: an evaluation of the British ONE pilots," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 415-429, August.
  6. Richard Dickens & Alan Manning, 2002. "Has The National Minimum Wage Reduced UK Wage Inequality?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0533, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Evaluating the Employment Impact of a Mandatory Job Search Program," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 569-606, 06.
  8. Richard Blundell & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2004. "Has 'In-Work' Benefit Reform Helped the Labor Market?," NBER Chapters, in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 411-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1998. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," JCPR Working Papers 32, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  10. Anderson, Torben G. & Bollerslev, Tim & Diebold, Francis X. & Vega, Clara, 2002. "Micro Effects of Macro Announcements: Real-Time Price Discovery in Foreign Exchange," Working Papers 02-1, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School, Weiss Center.
  11. Connolly, Sara & Gregory, Mary, 2002. " The National Minimum Wage and Hours of Work: Implications for Low Paid Women," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(0), pages 607-31, Supplemen.
  12. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  13. Micklewright, John, 2004. "Child Poverty in English-Speaking Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 1113, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jaap H. Abbring & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2003. "The Nonparametric Identification of Treatment Effects in Duration Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1491-1517, 09.
  16. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2004. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 213-236, May.
  17. H. W. Hoynes, . "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1078-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  18. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics," Working Papers 780, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning, 1992. "Minimum Wages," CEP Discussion Papers dp0080, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  20. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  21. Eissa, Nada & Liebman, Jeffrey B, 1996. "Labor Supply Response to the Earned Income Tax Credit," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 605-37, May.
  22. Schoeni, R.F. & Blank, R.M., 2000. "What Has Welfare Reform Accomplished? Impacts on Welfare Participation, Employment, Income, Poverty, and Family Structure," Papers 00-02, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  23. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  24. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan & Julian McCrae & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The labour market impact of the working families’ tax credit," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 75-103, March.
  25. T. Paul Schultz, 1994. "Marital Status and Fertility in the United States: Welfare and Labor Market Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 637-669.
  26. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  27. Robert Moffitt, 1994. "Welfare Effects on Female Headship with Area Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 621-636.
  28. Eissa, Nada & Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, 2004. "Taxes and the labor market participation of married couples: the earned income tax credit," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1931-1958, August.
  29. repec:ucf:inreca:inreca00/1 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Blundell, Richard, 2001. "Welfare Reform for Low Income Workers," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(2), pages 189-214, April.
  31. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "The Negative Income Tax and the Evolution of U.S. Welfare Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 119-140, Summer.
  32. Williamson Hoyne, Hilary, 1997. "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 89-117, August.
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