EITC Linked to Increases in Life Expectancy Among Low-Income Americans

By Kate Skochdopole

A new study from Columbia University found that the EITC may reverse declines in life expectancy among low-income Americans.

Researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health looked at how the credit at the state and federal level can affect a recipients Quality of Live Years (QALYs), a common measurement of lifespan that takes into account both the quality and quantity of an individual’s remaining years.

The data showed that individuals living in states that provide their own credits on top of the federal EITC lived on average 2.2 more QALYs than those living in states without one. The increase in QALYs also grew with the size of an individual’s EITC benefit: workers without children who receive small EITCs experienced an increase of only 1.6 QALYs, whereas a worker with three children and a large credit gained 2.9 QALYs.

“EITC might just be the bipartisan answer to both the problems of declining life expectancy and declining wages among lower income Americans,” said Dr. Peter Muennig, an associate professor of Health Policy and Management and one of the report’s authors. “This study suggests that relatively small investments in EITC might not only reduce poverty but be a much more cost-effective preventive intervention than treatment of hypertension, high cholesterol, or even HIV screening and treatment in high risk populations.”

This is not the first time that the EITC has been linked to better health outcomes among recipients. Researchers also found that children born to parents who receive the EITC also have higher birthweights, which is a strong indicator of good health later in life.