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The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit

Past estimates of the effect of family income on child development have often been plagued by endogeneity and measurement error. In this paper, we use an instrumental variables strategy to estimate the causal effect of income on children’s math and reading achievement. Our identification derives from the large, non-linear changes in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) over the last two decades. The largest of these changes increased family income by as much as 20%, or approximately $2,100, between 1993 and 1997. Using a panel of roughly 4,500 children matched to their mothers from National Longitudinal Survey of Youth datasets allows us to address problems associated with unobserved heterogeneity, endogenous transitory income shocks, and measurement error in income. Our baseline estimates imply that a $1,000 increase in income raises combined math and reading test scores by 6% of a standard deviation in the short-run. Test gains are larger for children from disadvantaged families and are robust to a variety of alternative specifications.

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File URL: http://economics.uwo.ca/chcp/workingpapers_docs/wp2011/Dahl_Lochner03.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) in its series University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers with number 20113.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:uwo:hcuwoc:20113
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Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP), Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2

Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext.85244
Web page: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/research_papers/chcp_workingpapers.html

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  7. Valerie Lechene & Orazio Attanasio, 2002. "Tests of Income Pooling in Household Decisions," Economics Series Working Papers 106, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne & Wiswall, Matthew, 2010. "What Linear Estimators Miss: Re-Examining the Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 4971, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  18. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
  19. Jennifer Ward-Batts, 2008. "Out of the Wallet and into the Purse: Using Micro Data to Test Income Pooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 325-351.
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  23. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
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