The Impact of Tax Refund Delays on the Experience of Hardship Among Lower-Income Households

Abstract The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income workers in the USA, yet around a quarter of EITC payments are estimated to be erroneous or fraudulent. Beginning in 2017, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 requires the Internal Revenue Service to spend additional time processing early EITC […]

Who Protests, What Do They Protest, and Why?

Abstract We examine individuals’ decisions to attend protests during the summer of 2020. Our analysis examines two simultaneous movements: Black Lives Matter along with protests calling for less stringent public health measures to combat the COVID-19 (e.g., for swifter reopening of businesses). Our analysis is made possible by a unique staggered panel data set that […]

Disrupted and Disconnected: Child Activities, Social Skills, and Race/Ethnicity During the Pandemic

Abstract Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, parents reported that their children spent the majority of their time at home, which can dramatically change their activities and negatively impact their social skills. However, research has yet to uncover the relationships between changes in activities during the pandemic and children’s social skills, nor the degree to which […]

COVID-19 job and income loss and mental health: the mediating roles of financial assets and well-being and the moderating role of race/ethnicity

Abstract Prior research shows unemployment has a negative effect on mental health, yet whether this relationship is affected by financial factors is unknown. For example, having money in savings may mitigate the impact of job loss on mental health. We use structural equation modeling with data from the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey with a […]

Nothing to show for it: Financial Distress and Re-Enrollment Aspirations for those with non-degreed debt

Abstract The number of individuals with student loan debt who do not earn their degrees is on the rise; nevertheless, there is little research that demonstrates their current circumstances and future aspirations. We address this knowledge gap by comparing the financial distresses and re-enrollment aspirations of student debt-holders who started college but did not earn […]

All over the Map: A Systematic Literature Review and State Policy Scan of Medicaid Buy-In Programs for Working Individuals with Disabilities

Abstract While supports for people with disabilities have increased, significant healthcare and financial barriers persist. State-administered Medicaid Buy-In programs for working people with disabilities, distinct from broader buy-in discussions that have emerged as some states consider expanding access to health insurance, are intended to incentivize employment and protect against a loss of Long-Term Services and […]

Expanded Child Tax Credit payments have not reduced employment

Approximately 60 million American children living in 35 million households received monthly payments from the federal government as part of the temporary Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion. Discourse over whether or not the expanded CTC caused parents to leave the workforce emerged during the period of the expanded credit. On one side, a large number […]

Public perceptions and the willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19: Lessons from Israel

Abstract Objectives To explore the associations between vaccine hesitancy and demographic and socio-economic characteristics, as well as perspective towards the COVID-19 and its vaccines. Methods Data were collected through four online surveys on Israel’s representative sample in March (3/2 to 3/7, n = 1517), August (8/10–8/11, n = 925; 8/18–8/22, n = 1054), and September (9/22-9/24; n=1406), 2021. We employ a […]

Suspended While Black in Majority White Schools: Implications for Math Efficacy and Equity

This article explores whether racial disparities in mathematics arise in majority White schools for students who receive in-school suspensions (ISS). Using data from the High School Longitudinal Survey and machine learning generated propensity scores to estimate average treatment effects, we find Black suspended students in schools with low White enrollment have math test scores and […]

Public perceptions and the willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19: Lessons from Israel

Abstract Objectives To explore the associations between vaccine hesitancy and demographic and socio-economic characteristics, as well as perspective towards the COVID-19 and its vaccines. Methods Data were collected through four online surveys on Israel’s representative sample in March (3/2 to 3/7, n = 1517), August (8/10–8/11, n = 925; 8/18–8/22, n = 1054), and September (9/22-9/24; n=1406), 2021. We employ a […]

The Impact of Tax Refund Delays on the Experience of Hardship Among Lower-Income Households

Abstract The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income workers in the USA, yet around a quarter of EITC payments are estimated to be erroneous or fraudulent. Beginning in 2017, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 requires the Internal Revenue Service to spend additional time processing early EITC […]

The Precarity of Self-Employment among Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Abstract Many people in the United States have achieved economic stability through self-employment and are often seen as embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and seizing opportunity. Yet, research also suggests that self-employment may be precarious for many people in the lower socioeconomic strata. Drawing on a unique dataset that combines longitudinal survey data with administrative tax […]

Do Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Savings and Job Loss during COVID-19 Explain Disparities in Housing Hardships? A Moderated Mediation Analysis

Abstract Despite the array of public programs offered to help households mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many still needed to rely on savings, credit, or other assets to make ends meet. This reality may exacerbate existing social and economic inequities because racial and ethnic minorities often have lower access to assets and […]

Introduction: The COVID-19 Shock to Our Deep Inequities: How to Mitigate the Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic affected nearly every aspect of household health, as well as the social and economic well-being of individuals and communities across the United States. Many in our society have faced and continue to face unprecedented challenges. Specifically, the pandemic put a microscope on inequities such as racial disparities in housing, health care, and […]

Crashing without a Parachute: Racial and Educational Disparities in Unemployment during COVID-19

Abstract The burden of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been shouldered equally by American families. Black and Hispanic communities have been hit the hardest, with the pandemic often exacerbating existing disparities. Using nationally representative data, we assess the economic and public health effects of the pandemic among different socioeconomic groups and whether typical sources of […]

Cut me some slack! An exploration of slack resources and technology-mediated human capital investments in entrepreneurship

Purpose In this paper, the authors explore the relationship that slack resources and technology-mediated human capital investments can have on individuals’ entrepreneurial intentions. Focusing on human capital investments that individuals make through education and work, the authors analyze the relationship among formal online learning opportunities, informal skill development in the gig economy and entrepreneurial intentions. […]

Increased School Breakfast Participation from Policy and Program Innovation: The Community Eligibility Provision and Breakfast after the Bell

Abstract School meals provide significant access to food and nutrition for children and adolescents, particularly through universal free meal mechanisms. Alongside added nutritional meal requirements under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (2010), schools can utilize meal program and policy mechanisms such as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and Breakfast after the Bell (BATB) to increase […]

New Year greetings from the director

Thank you for being a valued member of the Social Policy Institute community this past year. I am extremely proud of our team—staff, faculty affiliates, funders and community partners—who work so hard to make the world more equitable for everyone. Our mission to make the world more equitable by applying innovative, evidence-based solutions to complex social problems […]

Paid Sick Leave Heading into COVID-19

Paid sick leave is vital for controlling the spread of illness in the workplace and an invaluable public health tool, but too few workers have access to it. In this brief, we examine the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to assess paid sick leave coverage with a focus on the social and economic characteristics of […]

Vaccine hesitance during COVID-19

As rates of vaccination have slowed, concerns are growing about how to increase vaccine uptake among those who are vaccine hesitant, particularly with the emergence of new and contagious variants such as Delta. Using our national Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, we examine the predictors of vaccine hesitance in the U.S. and report on findings […]

How Did School Meal Access Change during the COVID-19 Pandemic? A Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Analysis of a Large Metropolitan Area

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) resulted in school closures and contingencies across the U.S. that limited access to school meals for students. While some schools attempted to provide alternative meal access points where students or parents could pick up meals, many students—especially those in low-income households—lacked adequate transportation to these access points. Thus, physical proximity to meal access […]

COVID-19 Among Youth in Israel: Correlates of Decisions to Vaccinate and Reasons for Refusal

The primary aim of the present study is to examine the reasons for adolescents’ refusal to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, and examine correlates of vaccination among adolescents aged 12–18 years in Israel. A total of 150 youth aged 12–18 years participated in the study. Following parental consent (30% response rate) from an online internet […]

Financial Shocks and Financial Well-Being: What Builds Resiliency in Lower-Income Households?

Households in the U.S. regularly experience unexpected negative income or expense shocks, and low- and moderate-income households experience these shocks at disproportionately high rates. Relatively little is known about the impact these shocks have on households’ subjective sense of financial well-being, and how access to different types of liquidity (e.g., liquid assets, credit cards, social […]

Did government benefits help Israeli households avoid hardship during COVID-19? Evidence from a national survey

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Israel quickly introduced aggressive social distancing measures to curb the virus spread and adapted its unemployment insurance program in response to rising unemployment rates. This study examines the relationship between household income and the experience of material hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and […]

15 Actionable Strategies to Embrace Inclusive Leadership

Speakers at the Inclusive Growth in St. Louis event series on Sept. 23 identified 15 strategies to proactively support and amplify diverse voices and perspectives as discussed by the speakers at the event.

Promoting Childhood Vaccination During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As schools start back up, many parents are concerned about the health effects of COVID-19 in children. However, childhood diseases beyond COVID-19 are still threats to children’s well-being. In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a large decrease in childhood vaccination rates for diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, measles and mumps.

Use of Public Benefits Over the First Year of Pandemic

In response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. federal government enacted initiatives designed to help households weather the pandemic’s effects. These initiatives included expansions of existing programs, such as unemployment insurance, as well as new programs like the economic impact payments. In this brief, we investigate the extent to which […]

Impact of COVID-19 on Households with Children

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in employment, child care and education. As a result, both parents and children experienced a variety of hardships in their work and education. While these hardships had reverberating effects throughout households, they were not equally distributed across families with children. In this brief, we explore the effects of COVID-19 […]

Employment Changes During COVID-19

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. unemployment peaked at 14.4%. While some workers have returned to payrolls, others have been left behind. This brief examines the nuances of employment changes over the course of the pandemic and the impact of those changes on household financial well-being. Our study finds that the proportion of employees who […]

Housing Hardships During COVID-19

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. households were burdened by the cost of rental and mortgage payments, burdens which disproportionately fell on Black and Hispanic families. Using a 5-wave survey, we examined whether disparities in housing cost burden continued throughout the pandemic and trends in how households fell behind on rent and mortgage payments. […]

The Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 Study: Survey Methodology Report

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and economic shutdowns began in March 2020, households across the United States were faced with an unprecedented crisis that would affect their health, financial security and overall well-being for an unforeseeable amount of time. In order to examine and track the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic on households, as […]

“Take my word for it”: Group Texts and Testimonials Enhance State and Federal Student Aid Applications

As the cost of college continues to rise, it has become increasingly important for students to apply for financial aid. However, many students are unaware of the benefits of FAFSA. We launched a field experiment with a non-profit organization to explore the impact of text message interventions on FAFSA application rates. 2,236 potential students were […]

Pinching pennies or money to burn? The role of grit in financial behaviors

We explore whether gritty individuals are better savers by virtue of their wealth or due to diligent choices that benefit their long-term economic health. We test these competing hypotheses by examining the ways in which grit influences how LMI tax filers report spending or saving their tax refund in the months following tax filing. We […]

The Impact of State Earned Income Tax Credit Increases on Material and Medical Hardship

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial assistance to low- and moderate-income workers and has been shown to reduce poverty and encourage employment. Many U.S. states have also implemented their own EITCs to supplement the federal tax credits. Leveraging unique administrative and survey data and employing a difference-in-differences approach, this study investigates […]

Material Hardship among Lower-Income Households: The Role of Liquid Assets and Place

Lower-income households are at risk for material hardship, particularly amidst the economic fallout of COVID-19. Where one lives (e.g., suburb, small town) may affect this risk due to variable access to resources, yet the evidence is mixed concerning the influence of place. We used a pooled, national cross-sectional sample of 66,046 lower-income tax filers to […]

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Housing Instability during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Assets and Income Shocks

Abstract Stable and adequate housing is critical in the midst of a pandemic; without housing, individuals and families cannot shelter in place to prevent the spread of disease. Understanding and combating housing hardships in vulnerable populations is therefore essential to a sound public health response. This study aims to explore the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on […]

Assessing the Short-Term Stability of Financial Well-Being in Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Much of the literature on household finance tends to focus on relatively objective measures of financial security (e.g., savings, income, financial knowledge), and there has been less research on measures of subjective financial well-being. This gap is due in part to the absence of a common understanding on defining and measuring subjective financial well-being. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau […]

Can Workplace Financial Counseling Help Lower-Income Workers Improve Credit Outcomes?

Financial counseling has been found to be effective in improving consumers’ credit outcomes and could be expanded through the workplace to reach lower-income workers who struggle with various financial challenges. We examine engagement and credit outcomes associated with a workplace financial counseling program offered to 2,849 frontline workers in New York City. Age and credit […]

The Process of “Pushing Out”: Accumulated Disadvantage across School Punishment and Math Achievement Trajectories

Students drop out of school for a variety of reasons, yet are “pushed out” when they exhibit traits that are deemed undesirable to school officials, such as misbehavior and academic failure. While much of the previous research on pushouts views the phenomenon as a discrete occurrence often attributed to either misbehavior or academic failure, we […]

Fintech as a Solution for Employee Financial Health: Findings from Five Exploratory Studies

The financial technology (fintech) sector has grown rapidly in recent years. Awareness and use of fintech has grown as companies in this sector have increased their user-friendly design, convenience, and accessibility. A unique fintech niche that has developed rapidly alongside the overall industry is known as “employer-channel fintech.” Offered by employers, these solutions or benefits […]

Saving for a Rainy Day: Making it Easier for Employees to Build Emergency Savings

In this study, we examined Onward, an employer-based mobile app that enables workers to save via payroll deduction and receive financial education and coaching as a means to address financial challenges such as difficulty paying bills on time, managing debt, and accruing savings. An important feature of Onward is that employees can save automatically through […]

Financing Workers’ Health Care Cash Flow Needs: A Pilot Study

MedPut offers a way for employees to pay their out-of-pocket health care expenses through payroll deducted or Health Savings Account (HSA) payments capped at 5% of gross pay. Employees that use MedPut are much more likely to report having problems paying medical bills and to report putting off health care due to cost concerns. Nearly […]

Don’t Cash Out or Leave Them Behind: A Pilot Study of a 401k Plan Transfer Digital Platform

In this study, we examined Manifest, a digital platform that makes it easier for employees to transfer 401k retirement accounts when they change jobs. Transferring accounts reduces the likelihood employees cash out and helps them consolidate their retirement savings. We examined 401k plan activity among nearly 15,000 employees of a private university over a four-year […]

From Financial Struggle to Short-Term Financial Relief – An Exploratory Study on Small-Dollar Lending for Low-and Moderate-Income Employees

In this study, we examined HoneyBee, a service company that provides access to 0% APR loans and financial coaching through the workplace. HoneyBee aims to offer employees in need a more affordable credit alternative to payday and auto title loans and therefore help addressing significant cash flow emergencies. Data for this exploratory study included 65 […]

Employer-Sponsored Financial Planning: A Study of the Brightside Platform

In this report, we explore employee usage trends of Brightside, an employee financial health platform that is designed to improve the financial health of working families. Using this platform, employees can open “cases” to address a financial need or goal they have. Brightside connects these employees with financial assistants who, in turn, connect the employees […]

Are Foreclosure Spillover Effects Universal? Variation Over Space and Time

Government intervention in the housing market in response to the 2007–2010 mortgage crisis was driven in part by research showing that foreclosures lower neighboring housing values and thus increase neighbors’ risk of foreclosure. Researchers have consistently identified a negative spillover effect of foreclosures on nearby housing values, but the magnitude of the effect varies widely […]

Improving Access and Minimizing Obstacles for Medicaid Buy-In Participation

Medicaid Buy-In (MBI) has received public and policymaker attention in recent years as an option for states to expand access to healthcare. “Eligibility can be so confusing and complicated it presents an obstacle for providers and government alike to communicate clearly, never mind promote Medicaid buy-in for working people with disabilities.” Kimberly Lackey, Director of […]