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The Earned Income Tax Credit and Expected Social Security Benefits among Low-Income Mothers

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has been found to lead to increases in employment and earnings growth for low-educated women. That increased employment and earnings may result in a greater fraction of those women qualifying for Social Security benefits and their receiving a higher benefit in the event they do qualify. In this study, we determine the extent to which the labor supply responses to the EITC will improve the financial security of low-income women when they near retirement age. We use data from the 1993 and 1996 SIPP-SSA matched data files and the CWHS to estimate the impact of EITC expansions on employment, quarters of coverage, and earnings growth. Earlier research exploited the differential expansions in the credit for single mothers with two or more qualifying children and for single mothers with only one child. Those results, consistent with our earlier work, show that the EITC increased both employment and earnings growth of single mothers in the 5 years following expansion. We then simulate the impact of EITC expansion on the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) amount and the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) of a sample of low-educated women. The results show that the EITC increases the share of women who are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits by between 2% and 3%. Further, we find that lifetime earnings increase by between 6% and 17% and the AIME by a similar amount.


Economic Support, Employment, Financial Security, Retirement