NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Infant Health Revisited

Daniel L. Dench, Theodore J. Joyce

NBER Working Paper No. 26476
Issued in November 2019
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

Hoynes, Miller and Simon (2015), henceforth HMS, report that the national expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is associated with decreases in low birth weight. We question their findings. HMS’s difference-in-differences estimates are unidentified in some comparisons, while failed placebo tests undermine others. Their effects lack a plausible mechanism as the association between the EITC and prenatal smoking also fails placebo tests. We contend that the waning of the crack epidemic is a possible confound, but we show that any number of policies directed at poor women also eliminate the effect of the EITC when aggregated to the national level. Identifying small, causal effects of a national policy at a single point in time is exceedingly challenging.

This paper was motivated by an earlier NBER working paper. The authors of that paper have posted a response to this paper.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26476

Published: Daniel Dench & Theodore Joyce, 2020. "The earned income tax credit and infant health revisited," Health Economics, vol 29(1), pages 72-84.

 
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