Positive Income Shocks and Very Preterm Births among Black Mothers in California

Tim-Allen Bruckner, University of California, Irvine
Ralph Catalano, University of California, Berkeley

Infants born to black mothers of lower socioeconomic position exhibit an elevated incidence of very preterm birth. It remains unclear whether scarce financial resources per se account for this finding. Consistent with the notion that financial resources improve birth outcomes, we test whether an income shock, in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), reduces the odds of very preterm. We use time-series methods and capitalize on differences in credit eligibility and the timing of disbursement among pregnant women in their second or third trimester. Contrary to our hypothesis but anticipated by the literature, the odds of very preterm among low-income black women that qualify for the EITC rose 29 percent above expected values two months after the disbursement. Examination among similarly low-income non-Hispanic white mothers also shows a positive association. Findings indicate that the EITC income shock may adversely affect the gestations of low-income women.

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Presented in Session 153: Public Policy and Child Outcomes