The Earned Income Tax Credit and Intimate Partner Violence

J Interpers Violence. 2021 Mar 11;886260521997440. doi: 10.1177/0886260521997440. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health problem in the United States with adverse consequences for affected individuals and families. Recent reviews of the literature suggest that economic policies should be further investigated as part of comprehensive strategies to address IPV. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the nation's largest anti-poverty program for working parents, and especially benefits low-income women with children, who experience an elevated risk of IPV. The EITC may prevent IPV by offering financial resources; such resources may help individuals experiencing IPV leave abusive relationships or address IPV risk factors, thereby preventing entry into abusive relationships. However, the association between EITC generosity and IPV has not been previously examined. We used state-level and individual-level datasets to examine the association between EITC generosity and IPV. Our state-level data source was the nationally representative National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS; N = ~ 95,000 households per year). For NCVS, we used a difference-in-difference approach to investigate the relationship between state EITC generosity and IPV rates. We also used individual-level longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (n = 13,422 person-waves). Using this cohort of US families at higher risk for IPV, we evaluated associations between estimated EITC benefits based on the mother's state of residence and number of children and self-reported IPV. In both state- and individual-level analyses, no significant association between state EITC benefits and IPV was found. Factors that may account for these null findings include program ineligibility for individuals who separate from abusive spouses. Future research efforts should more closely examine EITC policy implementation processes and the lived experience of participating in anti-poverty programs for people experiencing IPV.