Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 537–563 | Cite as

The earned income tax credit and fertility

  • Reagan Baughman
  • Stacy Dickert-ConlinEmail author
Original Paper


Government programs designed to provide income safety nets often restrict eligibility to families with children, creating an unintended fertility incentive. This paper considers whether dramatically changing incentives in the earned income tax credit affect fertility rates in the USA. We use birth certificate data spanning the period 1990 to 1999 to test whether expansions in the credit influenced birthrate among targeted families. While economic theory would predict a positive fertility effect of the program for many eligible women, our results indicate that expanding the credit produced only extremely small reductions in higher order fertility among white women.


Earned income tax credit Fertility Taxes 

Jel Classifications

H2 J1 



Thanks to Gabrielle Chapman, Cristian Meghea, and Karoline Mortenson for excellent research assistance. We are also grateful to Janet Holtzblatt, Saul Hoffman, Marianne Bitler, Elizabeth Peters, Irv Garfinkel, and anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. Baughman gratefully acknowledges the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars in Health Policy Research Program while the project was being completed. All remaining errors are our own.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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