“The 2021 Child Tax Credit, housing affordability, and the living arrangements of families with low incomes.”
Access to safe and stable housing is important for child and adult wellbeing. Yet many low-income households face severe challenges in maintaining stable housing. In this paper we examine the impact of the 2021 temporary expansion to the Child Tax Credit (CTC) on the living arrangements and housing affordability of families with low incomes. We employ a parameterized difference-in-differences method and use national data from a sample of parents who are receiving, or recently received, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (N~20,500). We find that the monthly CTC is associated with a higher likelihood that parents reported a change in their living arrangements as well as reduced household size, an effect largely driven by fewer mothers living with a partner (and not a reduction in doubling up). We also find that the credit reduced parents’ likelihood of reporting potential moves due to difficulties affording rent/mortgages as well as the amount and incidence of back-owed rent/mortgages. We find some differences in effects by race and ethnicity and income. Our findings illustrate how the monthly credit allowed parents to gain residential independence from partners, reduce the number of people residing in their household, and reduce their past-due rent/mortgage.
Natasha Pilkauskas is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. Pilkauskas’ research considers how demographic, social safety net, and economic shifts in the U.S. affect low-income families with children. Specifically, her work examines children’s shared living arrangements, economic insecurity among vulnerable populations, and the effects of cash transfers, such as tax credits, on low-income families. Much of Pilkauskas’ research focuses on early childhood, a time when poverty and instability are known to have long-lasting detrimental effects on children’s health and development, and when social policies have been shown to have some of the strongest impacts on improving children’s life chances. Pilkauskas holds a Ph.D. in social welfare policy from Columbia University, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a B.A in Economics and Sociology from Northwestern University.
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