The impact of tax credits on labour supply
One of the principle aims of the Working Families' Tax Credit in the UK was to increase the participation of single mothers. The literature to date concludes there was approximately a five-percentage-point increase in employment of single mothers. The differences-in-differences methodology that is typically used compares single mother with single women without children. However, the characteristics of these groups are very different, and change over time in relative covariates are likely to violate the identifying assumption. We find that when we control for differential trends between women with and without children, the employment effect of the policy falls significantly. Moreover, the effect is borne solely by those working full-time (30 hours or more), while having no effect on inducing people into the labor market from inactivity. Looking closely at important covariates over time, we can see sizeable changes in the relative returns to employment between the treatment and control groups.
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