Views
4 years ago

IMPACT - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University

IMPACT - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University

4 2013 summer autumn

4 2013 summer autumn winter spring volume 5 t issue 3 Faculty Researcher Kathryn Edin, Professor of Public Policy and Management, Harvard Kennedy School Paper Title The Role of Earned Income Tax Credit in the Budgets of Low-Income Families Coauthors Ruby Mendenhall, University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana; Jeffrey Kling, Congressional Budget Office and National Bureau of Economic Research; Susan Crowley, Jennifer Sykes, Laura Tach, Harvard University; Katrin Kriz, Emmanuel College Kathryn Edin POVERTY The EITC: Encouraging Economic Mobility for the Working Poor Social policy in the United States has shifted dramatically since the early 1990s, with welfare reform shrinking a needsbased safety net and placing greater emphasis on work-based wage subsidy programs. The most significant of these is the Earned Income Tax Credit (eitc), a means-tested earnings supplement for low-wage workers with dependent children. Introduced in 1975 but greatly expanded in 1994, the eitc program is now credited with lifting more than 5.4 million people out of poverty each year. According to Kathryn Edin, Professor of Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School, it is “one of the most successful social policies that’s ever been invented.” Despite this impact, however, little in-depth research has been conducted into how eitc recipients allocate the funds they receive. Is this money merely supplementing the current consumption of already stretched family budgets, or is it enabling debt repayment and asset accumulation? What are anticipated and actual expenditure patterns, and what factors contribute to discrepancies between the two? How can the eitc enable longer-term goal setting, thereby increasing economic mobility? These are questions Edin and her colleagues explore in their paper “The Role of Earned Income Tax Credit in the Budgets of Low-Income Families.” Research into eitc use had previously been done through surveys, but, Edin explained in an interview, “no one had done extensive accounting” of how refunds were planned for and then actually spent. In their study, Edin and her colleagues did just that, visiting tax-preparation sites in Boston and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. More than 650 families completed initial surveys, and after stratifying the potential participants by race and family structure, the researchers conducted follow-up interviews with 194 families six months later. For the working poor, the eitc subsidy is substantial. In 2011, a family with three children earning less than $46,044 could claim a credit of $5,751, and families with one child were eligible for $3,094. These funds come in one lump sum, and thus play a unique role in many families’ finances, allowing them “to strategize more around their stretched budgets,” the authors write, “and [providing] some opportunity to meet their longer-term goals of social mobility.” The study organized recipients’ allocation of funds into three categories: current consumption (child expenses, groceries); debt repayment; and asset building (savings, college tuition, home purchases or repairs). It found, for example, that 72 percent of participants planned to catch up on bills with their eitc funds but an even larger portion — 89 percent — actually did; indeed, 39 percent of the $804,400 eitc dollars in the study went toward reducing debt. And while 69 percent of participants claimed they “planned to invest some of their refund in asset accumulation” but only 47 percent managed to do so, the authors write that “many families viewed the eitc itself as a form of saving, and believed they were engaging in savings behavior simply by being eligible for the program.” This, indeed, is where the real story lies. “I think our most important finding was actually to do with the idea of belonging,” Edin explains. “In the past, the poor had to work under the table to make ends meet, or get taxed on every dollar earned. Now, they can work and collect the eitc at h&r Block, like every other American, and it’s like a badge of citizenship. There’s a sense in which you’re part of the mainstream, you’re a taxpayer. People are proud to claim that money; they think they earned it.” Furthermore, the study found that “the anticipation of receiving the refund in the future, over multiple years, was associated with a strong sense of future orientation.” Families used the refund as a vehicle for both financial stability (debt abolishment) and economic mobility (asset building); encouraging these uses as a “long-term anti-poverty strategy” is key. As Edin says, “It’s a very different narrative: ‘How am I going to survive until next month?’ versus ‘When my child goes to college in five years, how am I going to pay for it?’ The eitc gets people focused on a different set of concerns.” s SKG IMPACT | Research from Harvard Kennedy School www.hks.harvard.edu

CRIMINAL JUSTICE Holding a Magnifying Glass Over Police Science Police officers responding to an incident of domestic violence were traditionally unlikely to make any arrests, because they knew from experience that the victims of these crimes were unlikely to cooperate with prosecutors. Then the police began responding to new research that showed that an arrest, even if it had little chance of leading to prosecution, would make the aggressor less likely to be violent in the future. That’s an example of Evidence- Based Policing (ebp) — of finding out, through rigorous scientific testing, what works in crime control and prevention. But its supporters are concerned that after a bright start in the 1990s, ebp is not fulfilling its early promise, and that it deserves a more central place in policing, guiding practice and even being used to evaluate practitioners. Malcolm Sparrow disagrees. Police science, he argues in “Governing Science,” is too important to be left to social scientists. Sparrow, Professor of the Practice of Public Management at Harvard Kennedy School, wrote the paper at the invitation of the National Institute of Justice in order to balance the more extreme claims of some ebp champions who view social scientists as the only qualified arbiters of “what works.” “I believe that we are in a particularly important period in the development of police science, requiring enriched and productive relationships between police and academia,” Sparrow writes. “I also believe that much harm might result if we give ebp a dominant position in the context of that relationship.” Equating ebp with science is “grossly misleading,” Sparrow argues. He stresses the importance of balancing the inquiry methods of the natural sciences with those of the social sciences. Social scientists focus on the question “What works?” and rely heavily on the techniques of program evaluation. Natural scientists focus more on “How does the world work?” They probe the dynamics and structure of specific crime risks, figuring out how to artfully sabotage them with incisive (and often novel) interventions. Relevant inquiry techniques, Sparrow says, include close observation, exploration, data mining, pattern recognition, analytic decomposition and disaggregation, experimentation, trial and error, and incremental adjustment. “We are in a particularly important period in 2013 autumn winter spring summer the development of police science, requiring enriched and productive relationships between police and academia.” If it were to focus exclusively on ebp, Sparrow argues, the discipline of police science would be in danger of falling into the hands of elite scholars focused on only the most demanding levels of proof, such as randomized, controlled trials. “Proponents of ebp have set the bar for ‘knowing’ so high, and made the means for generating knowledge so particular, that they end up knowing relatively little,” Sparrow writes. “Operational police need to know much more, just well enough and much sooner, in order to keep up with the pace and variety of the challenges they face.” Sparrow points to ebp’s fundamental incompatibility with the operational problem-solving work of the police: Thorough program evaluations can take three to five years; they focus on macrolevel analyses and therefore ignore distinct but lower-level components of major crime problems; they discourage creativity and experimentation by restricting operations to the use of proven methods; they perpetuate a program-centric mind-set and distract attention from a task-based approach; and, because of their focus Faculty Researcher Malcolm Sparrow, Professor of the Practice of Public Management, Harvard Kennedy School Paper Title Governing Science volume 5 t issue 3 Malcolm Sparrow on what is statistically noticeable, they may not recognize the swift and effective interventions that are often hallmarks of the best policing, when emerging problems are spotted and suppressed before they become statistically significant. ebp does have a place, Sparrow concludes, but that place should be limited and clearly defined. For example, it can be used in evaluating “programs and methods that are expensive, long term, potentially permanent”— and that are deployed across departments in a sufficiently standardized way to actually be evaluated. Sparrow, a mathematician himself, urges the police profession to embrace a much broader range of analytical and inquiry techniques, and reminds social scientists that “the majority of scientific advances benefiting humankind have arisen and become firmly established without their help.” s RDO 5 www.hks.harvard.edu IMPACT | Research from Harvard Kennedy School

Snake-Oil Tax Cuts - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University
Download a PDF copy - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University
PDF full text - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard University
Research Report Papers - Harvard Kennedy School - Harvard ...
THE RISE OF THE “NEW NEWS” - Harvard Kennedy School ...
dental - Harvard School of Dental Medicine - Harvard University
ABC Waters Design Guidelines. - Harvard Kennedy School
The Future of Global Cooperation - Harvard Kennedy School ...
The Role of the Food & Beverage Sector - Harvard Kennedy School ...
The Future of Global Cooperation - Harvard Kennedy School
Business Partnerships for Development: - Harvard Kennedy School ...
The impact of schools on young people's transition to university
MD-PhDProgram - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
MD-PhDProgram - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
ADOLESCENT - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
explore - Harvard School of Dental Medicine - Harvard University
Brochure - Harvard School of Public Health - Harvard University
The Impact and Issues of an - Nieman Foundation - Harvard University
MD-Ph.D. Class of 2011 - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
MD-Ph.D. Class of 2013 - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
MD-Ph.D. Class of 2012 - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
honor roll of donors - Harvard Medical School - Harvard University
Impact - Duke University School of Nursing
SDP COLLEGE-GOING DIAGNOSTIC - Harvard Graduate School of ...
HSCP Style Guide - Department of the Classics - Harvard University
ImPaCT - Richard Ivey School of Business - University of Western ...
Measuring the Impact of Universal Pre-School Education ... - Niace
Measuring the Impact of Universal Pre-School Education ... - Niace
An Increasing National Impact - Washington University School of Law