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Incentives and Disincentives in the U.S. Social Safety Net

The U.S. government policies can significantly alter the incentive of low- and moderate-income families. I study the effects of existing U.S. social safety net programs on labor supply, economic mobility and other decisions such as marriage.

Below is the summary of my work that explores this issue.

Does Access to Free Prekindergarten Increase Maternal Labor Supply
With Samantha Shampine and Ellie Terry

In this paper we evaluate the effects of state-specific pre-K programs on labor force participation, employment and usual hours of mothers. We use variation in pre-K rules across all U.S. states, including income eligibility requirements in some states.  To estimate the causal effects of access to pre-K on labor supply we exploit the panel aspect of the monthly Current Population Survey between 2002-2019. Specifically we look at the change in labor market behavior of women when their child becomes eligible for pre-K (usually at age 4), controlling for individual factors.

Is Our Fiscal System Discouraging Marriage? A New Look at the Marriage Tax
With Melinda Pitts and Laurence Kotlikoff

We develop, apply, and test a new measure of the marriage tax – the reduction in future spending from getting married – using SCF and ACS data. Our measure incorporates all major and most minor U.S. tax and benefit programs. And it assumes clone marriage – marrying oneself – to ensure the living-standard loss from marrying is unaffected by spousal choice. Our calculated high and highly variable marriage taxes materially reduce the probability of marriage particularly for low-income females with children.

The Effect of the ACA on Marginal Tax Rates and Labor Supply

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represented the largest expansion of public health care coverage since the introduction of Medicaid and Medicare in 1965. The law arguably altered the returns to work and changed the labor supply of Americans. In this paper, I estimate the extent to which these ACA provisions changed the returns to work and affected the labor supply decisions of Americans.

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