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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Alexander C. Wagenaar

Wagenaar and Livingston designed this study with advice from Markowitz.

Livingston conducted all statistical analyses and wrote the methods section.

Wagenaar drafted the paper.

Komro is PI and led conceptualization and design.

All authors substantively contributed to the final version.

We acknowledge the contribution of the Policy Surveillance Program team at Temple University Law School’s Center for Public Health Law Research in collecting and coding state EITC policies.

Warm thanks to two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions.

None of the authors report any conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship or publication of this article.


Research Funding:

This study was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (award R01MD010241).

The funding agency had no role in designing or conducting the study, and did not participate in writing or editing the paper for publication.


  • Low birth weight
  • Poverty
  • Premature birth
  • Tax policy
  • Time series

Effects of changes in earned income tax credit: Time-series analyses of Washington DC


Journal Title:

SSM - Population Health


Volume 7


, Pages 100356-100356

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Poverty has numerous deleterious effects on health, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the major policy tool used to alleviate poverty in the U.S. We evaluate effects of four distinct changes in earned income tax credit law in Washington, DC on maternal behaviors and infant outcomes. An interrupted time-series design was used with 312 monthly measures from 1990 through 2015 analyzed in 2018 (total n = 225,933 births). States with no EITC were included as the comparison group; analyses involved ARIMA modeling. Outcomes were derived from birth certificates, and included percent of live births below 2500 g, mean birth weight, mean gestation weeks, first trimester prenatal care, and maternal smoking during pregnancy. We found a pattern of significant improvements across all three infant outcome measures, with the size of the effect estimate monotonically matching the magnitude of the tax credit—ranging from a 1.9 (-2.9, -0.9) reduction in rate per 100 births of low birth weight for the smaller 10% credit, to a 4.7 (-5.4, -4.0) reduction with the 40% credit. Results for maternal smoking and prenatal care were mixed. Results suggest that earned income tax credit policies improve birth outcomes; mechanisms for this effect deserve further study.

Copyright information:

© 2019 The Authors

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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