Social Policy Research Projects

Poverty and Inequality Research Group

Multiple social policies augment the economic support available to families and children. Understanding the direct and indirect effects of these social policies builds understanding for interventions to reduce social inequality.

The Oregon Earned Income Credit’s Impact on Child Poverty

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides cash to families in the form of a refundable tax credit. It primarily targets working families with children, and acts like an earnings subsidy to increase the incomes of low-income families while incentivizing work. At the federal level, the EITC is the largest and most generous of all federal income assistance policies (10) and is the most effective for child poverty reduction (8). Twenty-nine state have also adopted EITC policies, most commonly as a percentage of the federal EITC.

Oregon has a refundable earned income tax credit (OEIC) that is equal to 8 percent of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In 2017, Oregon introduced a unique supplement to the OEIC that provided an additional 3% of the Federal EITC to families with children under age 3. To date, there has been no research examining the impact of the OEIC on child poverty. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we simulate the static effects of this unique state OEIC on overall poverty, child poverty, and early child poverty rates in Oregon. We find that the OEIC does not yield a change in the estimated headcount poverty rate for either children or young children. However, focusing exclusively on changes in poverty rates underestimates the impact of the OEIC.
This project is funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute on Rural Poverty.

Project Information, Publications and Related Resources


Examining Experiences of Food Hardships and SNAP Enrollment among Young-Old and Older Americans: A Multi-Method Approach

Cross-sectional analyses show that household food insecurity declines with age. Yet, in 2017, the rate of food insecurity among households with older people (7.9%, 3 million households) was several percentage points higher than the rate for older adults twenty years ago. Unfortunately, SNAP utilization among eligible older adults remains low compared to other age groups, despite increases in the rates of food insecurity. Increasing SNAP enrollment in this population could substantially reduce their food insecurity, but little is known about how the life circumstances of older adults (e.g., rurality, social isolation, other non-food expenses, health challenges, disability, transportation, loss of a spouse, presence of grandchildren) impact food insecurity and SNAP enrollment. This study uses longitudinal administrative data and in-depth qualitative interviewing and participant observation to better understand program participation and describe households with food insecure seniors.

These analyses will enable the careful description of patterns of SNAP under-enrollment, food insecurity risk and resilience factors, and contextual characteristics of food insecure seniors. Our results will directly inform current policy debates about SNAP participation among older Americans as well as explore ongoing uncertainty about the unique causes and consequences of food insecurity among older Americans.

This project is funded by the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research