Expanding the Implicit Social Safety Net: Estimations of Labor Supply Responses to State-Level Earned Income Tax Credit Reform
According to the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will provide 26 million households with 60 billion dollars of reduced taxes and refunds in 2015 \u2014 resources that serve to lift millions of families above the federal poverty line. Responding to the popularity of EITC programs and recent discussion of its expansion for childless adults, I select three comparative case studies of state-level EITC reform from 2005 to 2013. Each state represents a different kind of policy reform: the creation of a supplemental credit in Connecticut, credit reduction in New Jersey, and finally credit expansion for childless adults in Maryland. For each case study, I use Current Population Survey panel data from the March Supplement to complete a differences-in-differences (DD) analysis of EITC policy changes. Specifically, I analyze effects of policy reform on total earned income, employment and usual hours worked. For comparison groups, I construct unique counterfactual populations of northeastern U.S. states, using people of color with less than a college degree as my treatment group for their increased sensitivity to EITC policy reform. I find no statistically significant effects of policy creation in Connecticut, significant decreases in employment and hours worked in New Jersey, and finally, significant increases in earnings and hours worked in Maryland. My work supports the findings of other empirical work, suggesting that awareness of new supplemental EITC programs is critical to their effectiveness while demonstrating that these types of programs can affect the labor supply and outcomes of eligible groups.