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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Infant Health Revisited

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  • Daniel L. Dench
  • Theodore J. Joyce

Abstract

Hoynes, Miller and Simon (2015), henceforth HMS, report that the national expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is associated with decreases in low birth weight. We question their findings. HMS’s difference-in-differences estimates are unidentified in some comparisons, while failed placebo tests undermine others. Their effects lack a plausible mechanism as the association between the EITC and prenatal smoking also fails placebo tests. We contend that the waning of the crack epidemic is a possible confound, but we show that any number of policies directed at poor women also eliminate the effect of the EITC when aggregated to the national level. Identifying small, causal effects of a national policy at a single point in time is exceedingly challenging.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel L. Dench & Theodore J. Joyce, 2019. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and Infant Health Revisited," NBER Working Papers 26476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26476
    Note: CH HE
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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