The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Marriage and Divorce: Evidence from Flow Data

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Abstract

While considerable research focuses on the anti-poverty and labor supply effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), relatively little is known about the program's influence on marriage and divorce decisions. Furthermore, nearly all work in this area uses stock measures of marital status derived from survey data. In this paper, I draw upon Vital Statistics data between 1977 and 2004 to construct a transition-based measure of marriage and divorce rates. Flows into and out of marriage are advantageous because they are more likely to capture the immediate impact of policy changes. Controlling for state-level characteristics and sources of unobserved heterogeneity, I find that increases in the EITC are associated with reductions in new marriages, although the estimated effect is economically small. I find no relationship between the EITC and new divorces. These results are robust to alternative estimation strategies, data restrictions, and the inclusion of additional policy and demographic controls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-128
Number of pages28
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

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Keywords

  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Flow data
  • Marriage penalties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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