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Child Cash Benefits and Family Expenditures: Evidence from the National Child Benefit

Author

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  • Lauren E. Jones
  • Kevin S. Milligan
  • Mark Stabile

Abstract

A vast literature has examined the impact of family income on the health and development outcomes of children. Income may improve child outcomes through two mechanisms. First, income may improve development outcomes if it improves a family’s ability to purchase direct inputs into child education and health production such as reading material, educational equipment, and health care. Second, by reducing stress and conflict, additional income helps to foster an environment more conducive to healthy child development, regardless of the nature of specific expenditures. In this paper, we exploit changes in refundable tax benefit income in Canada to study these questions. Importantly, our approach allows us to make stronger causal inferences than has been possible in existing studies. Using variation in child benefits across province, time, and family type, we study expenditure patterns of families receiving child benefits. Our findings suggest that additional income may improve outcomes through both mechanisms: some benefit income is spent on direct education and health inputs, while some is spent on everyday items likely to improve the general conditions children face. Additionally, some families reduce spending on risky behavior items. Spending responses to benefit generosity appear to vary by income.

Suggested Citation

  • Lauren E. Jones & Kevin S. Milligan & Mark Stabile, 2015. "Child Cash Benefits and Family Expenditures: Evidence from the National Child Benefit," NBER Working Papers 21101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21101
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    Cited by:

    1. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner & Youngmin Park, 2017. "Correlation, Consumption, Confusion, or Constraints: Why Do Poor Children Perform so Poorly?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 119(1), pages 102-147, January.
    2. Hansoo Ko & Renata E. Howland & Sherry A. Glied, 2020. "The Effects of Income on Children’s Health: Evidence from Supplemental Security Income Eligibility under New York State Medicaid," NBER Working Papers 26639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Peter Burton & Shelley Phipps, 2017. "Economic Well-Being of Canadian Children," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 43(4), pages 299-330, December.
    4. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2020. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1065-1147.
    5. Lebihan, Laetitia & Mao Takongmo, Charles-Olivier, 2018. "The impact of universal child benefits on family health and behaviours," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(4), pages 415-427.
    6. Tedds, Lindsay M. & Crisan, I. Daria & Petit, Gillian, 2020. "Basic Income in Canada: Principles and Design Features," MPRA Paper 105911, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Mari, Gabriele & Keizer, Renske, 2020. "Families of Austerity: Welfare Cuts and Family Stress in Britain," SocArXiv vdej8, Center for Open Science.
    8. Randall Akee & William Copeland & E. Jane Costello & Emilia Simeonova, 2018. "How Does Household Income Affect Child Personality Traits and Behaviors?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(3), pages 775-827, March.
    9. Melanie E. Guldi & Amelia Hawkins & Jeffrey Hemmeter & Lucie Schmidt, 2018. "Supplemental Security Income and Child Outcomes: Evidence from Birth Weight Eligibility Cutoffs," Department of Economics Working Papers 2018-12, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    10. Claire McCartan & Aine Morrison & Lisa Bunting & Gavin Davidson & Jackie McIlroy, 2018. "Stripping the Wallpaper of Practice: Empowering Social Workers to Tackle Poverty," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(10), pages 1-16, October.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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