The effects of income on health : new evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit

Lenhart, Otto (2018) The effects of income on health : new evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit. Review of Economics of the Household. ISSN 1573-7152

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    Abstract

    This study examines the relationship between income and health by using an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which increased benefits to households with at least two children, as a source of exogenous variations of earnings. The paper adds to previous work by: (1) estimating treatment effects on the treated using simulated EITC benefits and longitudinal data; (2) testing whether health effects vary across the three different parts of the EITC schedule; (3) examining the role of food expenditures and health insurance as potential mechanisms. The study finds that income improves the likelihood of affected heads of households reporting to be in excellent or very good health by 6.9 to 8.9 percentage points. The effects are largest in the plateau phase of the EITC schedule, where previous researchers have identified pure income effects of the program. The results are robust to several additional specifications, including a semi-parametric DD model and specifications that account for the potential endogeneity of sample. When examining potential channels underlying the relationship between income and health, I find that affected household increase their food expenditures by 10.5 to 20.3 percent and are 1.52 percent more likely to have health insurance coverage.