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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 24, 2012

Education, Maternal Smoking, and the Earned Income Tax Credit

Benjamin Cowan and Nathan Tefft

Abstract

We estimate and explore mechanisms of the impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansions on the smoking behavior of women. Differential increases in federal EITC benefits by family size in the mid-1990s allow for a comparison of smoking status changes between mothers with one and more than one child. We exploit these changes in a difference-in-differences framework using data from the 1993-2001 waves of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and show that the increase in EITC benefits yielded a significant decline in the likelihood of being a current smoker among unmarried mothers with less than a college degree. Although women with a high school degree or less and women with some college education received similar benefit increases on average and exhibited similar labor supply responses, the reduction in the likelihood of smoking was concentrated among those with some college.

Published Online: 2012-10-24

©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston