Child Cash Benefits and Family Expenditures: Evidence from the National Child Benefit
A vast literature has examined the impact of family income on the health and development outcomes of children. Income may improve child outcomes through two mechanisms. First, income may improve development outcomes if it improves a family’s ability to purchase direct inputs into child education and health production such as reading material, educational equipment, and health care. Second, by reducing stress and conflict, additional income helps to foster an environment more conducive to healthy child development, regardless of the nature of specific expenditures. In this paper, we exploit changes in refundable tax benefit income in Canada to study these questions. Importantly, our approach allows us to make stronger causal inferences than has been possible in existing studies. Using variation in child benefits across province, time, and family type, we study expenditure patterns of families receiving child benefits. Our findings suggest that additional income may improve outcomes through both mechanisms: some benefit income is spent on direct education and health inputs, while some is spent on everyday items likely to improve the general conditions children face. Additionally, some families reduce spending on risky behavior items. Spending responses to benefit generosity appear to vary by income.
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Kevin S. Milligan
September 21, 2014
This document attempts to disclose completely my potential conflicts of interest, using the principles circulated by the American Economic Association on January 5, 2012.
Item (2): Sources of support:
“Each author of a submitted article should identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, …”
The following corresponds to the calendar years 2011-2014. Below is a complete listing of sources of support that exceed $10,000. For several of these, a grant flowed through a research organization. I have tried to list both the research organization and ultimate source of the funds.
1. University of British Columbia: salary. (2011 2012 2013 2014)
2. National Institute on Aging / National Bureau of Economic Research: stipend for International Social Security project. (2011 2012 2013 2014 )
3. National Bureau of Economic Research / Social Security Administration: stipend for paper. (2011 2013)
4. Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network / Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: stipend for paper and directing research series. (2011 2012 2013)
5. Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Standard Research Grant. (2011 2012 2013)
6. National Bureau of Economic Research / Sloan Foundation: stipend for paper. (2011)
7. Canadian Tax Foundation: funding for conference. (2011)
8. C.D. Howe Institute, stipend for role as Scholar-in-Residence (2014)
Item (3): relevant paid or unpaid positions:
“Each author should disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit advocacy organizations or profit-making entities.”
The following list covers activities in the years 2011-2014:
1. Economic Advisor to ‘Smart Tax Alliance’ during referendum on Harmonized Sales Tax. (Unpaid) (2011)
2. Editor, Canadian Tax Journal. (Paid) (2011 2012 2013 2014)
3. Associate Editor, Canadian Public Policy. (Paid) (2011)
4. Associate Editor, Journal of Pension Economics and Finance. (Unpaid) (2011 2012 2013 2014)
5. Academic Director, British Columbia Interuniversity Research Data Centre (Unpaid; teaching release). Funded by UBC/UVIC/SFU/UNBC/SSHRC/CIHR. (2011 2012 2013 2014)
6. President and sole shareholder of KAYEMM CONSULTANCY INCORPORATED, through which some of the above funds have been received. (2011 2012 2013 2014)
7. Board of Directors, Wesley Place Ltd., Vancouver BC. (Unpaid) (2012 2013 2014)
8. Board of Directors, National Tax Association. (Unpaid) (2011 2012)
9. Member of Economic Advisory Council for Liberal Party of Canada. (Unpaid) (2014)
Item (4): disclosure for close relative or partner
I had no domestic partner in the years 2011-2014.
1. Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research. (Unpaid) (2011 2012 2013 2014)
2. Research Fellow, C.D. Howe Institute. (Unpaid) (2011 2012 2013 2014)
3. Scholar-in-Residence, C.D. Howe Institute. (Stipend) (2014)
4. Occasional contributor, Economy Lab, Globe and Mail. (Unpaid) (2010 2011 2012 2013)
5. Occasional contributor, Maclean’s Econowatch. (Paid) (2013 2014)
I hold shares in companies through broadly-diversified mutual funds and investment vehicles. I do not directly hold shares of any corporation (except for KAYEMM CONSULTANCY as noted above).
I am not a member of any political party at the municipal, provincial, or federal levels. I have occasional policy conversations with policy makers from all parties.
Lauren E. Jones & Kevin Milligan & Mark Stabile, 2019. "Child cash benefits and family expenditures: Evidence from the National Child Benefit," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, vol 52(4), pages 1433-1463. citation courtesy of