Income and child maltreatment in unmarried families: evidence from the earned income tax credit

  • Lawrence M. Berger
  • Sarah A. Font
  • Kristen S. Slack
  • Jane Waldfogel
Article

Abstract

This study estimates the associations of income with both (self-reported) child protective services involvement and parenting behaviors that proxy for child abuse and neglect risk among unmarried families. Our primary strategy follows the instrumental variables approach employed by Dahl and Lochner (2012), which leverages variation between states and over time in the generosity of the total state and federal earned income tax credit for which a family is eligible to identify exogenous variation in family income. As a robustness check, we also estimate standard OLS regressions (linear probability models), reduced form OLS regressions, and OLS regressions with the inclusion of a control function (each with and without family-specific fixed effects). Our micro-level data are drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth-cohort of relatively disadvantaged urban children who have been followed from birth to age nine. Results suggest that an exogenous increase in income is associated with reductions in behaviorally approximated child neglect and CPS involvement, particularly among low-income single-mother families.

Keywords

Child abuse and neglect Child protective services Child welfare Earned income tax credit Fragile families and child wellbeing study 

JEL Classification

I38 J13 H75 H53 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence M. Berger
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Font
    • 2
  • Kristen S. Slack
    • 3
  • Jane Waldfogel
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty and School of Social WorkMadisonUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas at Austin Population Research CenterAustinUSA
  3. 3.University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social WorkMadisonUSA
  4. 4.Columbia University School of Social WorkNew YorkUSA

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