Natasha V. Pilkauskas

What kind of jobs? The effect of the Earned Income Tax Credit on job quality

Research Project Description

Studies of the U.S. labor force have shown that the labor market is increasingly bifurcated ? with large returns to work for those with higher educations at the top of the market, whereas those with lower levels of education have experienced increasing income instability and precariousness (Fligstein & Shin, 2004; Kallberg, 2009). Precarious work ? work that is characterized by low wages, contingent employment, or unpredictability ? has risen in recent decades (Lambert, 2008; Schneider & Harknett, 2016) and is particularly common among low-income households (Kalleberg, 2013). At the same time, there have been significant shifts in the way the U.S. delivers assistance to low-income families, away from direct cash assistance, to an increasing reliance on work-contingent benefits through refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC has been credited with substantially increasing the labor supply of single mothers and lifting millions of families out of poverty each year, yet little is known about the type or quality of work that single mothers find. In this study, we propose to analyze how expansions to the EITC over time have affected the job quality of single mothers, including occupation, work schedules (types of non-standard shifts, multiple job holding, overtime hours), stability of hours and employment, access to fringe benefits, and longer-term wage growth and job tenure. Evaluating these outcomes is important as the kind of work mothers engage in has implications not only for their own economic and psychosocial wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of their children, as many studies have linked maternal employment characteristics with child outcomes (e.g., Li et al., 2014; Johnson, Kalil & Dunifon, 2012).

Russell Sage Foundation
(subcontract: 31483-05611-S01)

Funding Period: 6/1/2020 to 5/31/2021

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