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Who benefits from child benefit?

Blow, Laura and Walker, Ian and Zhu, Yu (2012) Who benefits from child benefit? Economic Inquiry, 50 (1). pp. 153-170. ISSN 1465-7295

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Abstract

Governments, over much of the developed world, make significant financial transfers to parents with dependent children. For example, in the United States the recently introduced Child Tax Credit (CTC), which goes to almost all children, costs almost $1 billion each week, or about 0.4% of GNP. The United Kingdom has even more generous transfers and spends an average of about $30 a week on each of about 8 million children—about 1% of GNP. The typical rationale given for these transfers is that they are good for our children and here we investigate the effect of such transfers on household spending patterns. In the United Kingdom such transfers, known as Child Benefit (CB), have been simple lump sum universal payments for a continuous period of more than 20 years. We do indeed find that CB is spent differently from other income—paradoxically, it appears to be spent disproportionately on adult‐assignable goods. In fact, we estimate that as much as half of a marginal dollar of CB is spent on alcohol. We resolve this puzzle by showing that the effect is confined to unanticipated variation in CB so we infer that parents are sufficiently altruistic toward their children that they completely insure them against shocks. (JEL I38, D79, D12)

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Economic Inquiry
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Departments: Lancaster University Management School > Economics
ID Code: 45563
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 11 Jul 2011 19:34
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 22:33
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/45563

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