Does the Earned Income Tax Credit Reduce Housing Instability?

January 13, 2017

This research examines whether the Earned Income Tax Credit. a key U.S. social welfare policy and one of the largest cash transfer programs in the U.S., reduces housing instability.

Housing instability (inability to pay rent, frequent moves, moving in with others/doubling up, eviction, or homelessness) is common among low-income households and is linked with a host of negative outcomes for families and children. As rents have risen and wages have not kept pace, housing affordability has declined over the last 15 years increasing rates of housing instability. This project aims to examine whether the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a key US social welfare policy and one of the largest cash transfer programs in the US, reduces housing instability. To date, no quantitative research has examined this link. Investigators will examine whether policy-induced expansions in the EITC (exploiting federal and state policy variation over time by family size) reduces housing instability. Findings may be used to consider how expansions to the EITC might be used to reduce housing instability and improve the lives of low-income families.

Natasha Pilkauskas, U-M Ford School of Public Policy
Katherine Michelmore, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs