New Study Supports Growing Evidence that EITC Improves Infant Health

By Devin Simpson

New findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) are the latest to substantiate the connection between the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and improved health outcomes.

NBER’s study, Effects of State-Level Earned Income Tax Credit Laws in the U.S. On Maternal Health Behaviors and Infant Health Outcomes, explores the link between state-level EITCs and health outcomes. Though there was not enough evidence to determine the credits’ effect on maternal health, the research found that state EITCs can improve infant health on several measures.

Previous research has shown that receiving the EITC can lead to positive changes in prenatal behavior among recipients, such as seeking timely prenatal care and reduced smoking, which can influence birth and longer-term childhood outcomes.

NBER’s study confirms these findings by examining the health effects of recent state EITC enactments and improvements, as well as comparing health outcomes in states that offer EITCs versus states that don’t. The study also corroborates previous research showing that infant birth weight improves as state-level EITCs grow in size. Importantly, NBER’s research shows that the largest increases in birth weight were in states with refundable EITCs.

NBER’s study adds to a growing body of research showing that the EITC is a holistic approach to addressing poverty – the credit not only helps to boost incomes, but also health, educational, and employment outcomes that benefit low-wage workers and their families at every stage of life.