IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence

  • Marco Francesconi
  • Helmut Rainer
  • Wilbert van der Klaauw

This paper examines the effects of theWorking Families’ Tax Credit (WFTC) on couples in Britain. We develop a simple model of household decisions which explicitly accounts for the role played by the tax and benefit system. Its main implications are then tested using panel data from the British Household Panel Survey collected between 1991 and 2002. Overall, the financial incentives of the reform had negligible effects on a wide range of married mothers’ decisions, such as eligible (working at least 16 hours per week) and full-time employment (working at least 30 hours per week), employment transitions, childcare use, and divorce rates. Women’s responses, however, were highly heterogeneous, depending on their partners’ labour supply and earnings. Mothers married to low- income men showed larger responses in employment, especially if they had younger children. They were more likely to remain in the labour force and had higher rates at which they entered it. While more likely to receive the tax credit, they also experienced a greater risk of divorce. We find virtually no effect for women with higher-income husbands. Likewise, there are no statistically significant responses among married men.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Bram Boskamp)

Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm in its series CRIEFF Discussion Papers with number 0709.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:san:crieff:0709
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics and Finance, University of St. Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL
Phone: 01334 462420
Fax: 01334 462438
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Rainer, Helmut, 2007. "Should we write prenuptial contracts?," Munich Reprints in Economics 19819, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Fella, Giulio & Manzini, Paola & Mariotti, Marco, 2002. "Does Divorce Law Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 439, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Richard Blundell & Pierre-Andr� Chiappori & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Collective Labor Supply with Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1277-1306, December.
  4. Marco Francesconi & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2007. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of "In-Work" Benefit Reform for British Lone Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  5. Iyigun, Murat & Walsh, Randall P., 2007. "Endogenous gender power, household labor supply and the demographic transition," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 138-155, January.
  6. Mike Brewer & Marco Francesconi & Paul Gregg & Jeffrey Grogger, 2009. "Feature: In-work Benefit Reform in a Cross-National Perspective - Introduction," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F1-F14, 02.
  7. Clark, Simon, 1999. "Law, Property, and Marital Dissolution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C41-54, March.
  8. Blundell, Richard & Chiappori, Pierre-André & Magnac, Thierry & Meghir, Costas, 2005. "Collective Labour Supply: Heterogeneity and Nonparticipation," IDEI Working Papers 373, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  9. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1985. "Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-92, July.
  10. Jeffrey Grogger & Lynn A. Karoly, 2007. "The Effects of Work-Conditioned Transfers on Marriage and Child Well-Being: A Review," Working Papers 531, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  11. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1105-1166, December.
  12. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, 02.
  13. Flinn, C.J., 1998. "Modes of Interaction Between Divorced Parents," Working Papers 98-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  14. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2004. "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Marriage and Divorce," Working Papers 110, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  15. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents Employment in the UK," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/072, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  16. John Ermisch & Chiara Pronzato, 2008. "Intra-Household Allocation of Resources: Inferences from Non-resident Fathers' Child Support Payments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(527), pages 347-362, 03.
  17. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-21, May.
  18. Dan Anderberg & Florence Kondylis & Ian Walker, 2008. "Partnership Penalties and Bonuses Created by UK Welfare Programs," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21, March.
  19. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Blundell, Richard, 2001. "Welfare Reform for Low Income Workers," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(2), pages 189-214, April.
  21. Del Boca, Daniela & Flinn, Christopher J, 1995. "Rationalizing Child-Support Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1241-62, December.
  22. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
  23. Hilary Hoynes & Richard Blundell, 2001. "Has "In-Work" Benefit Reform Helped the Labour Market?," NBER Working Papers 8546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:san:crieff:0709. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bram Boskamp)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.