Timely and well-targeted financial help during COVID-19: an employer-community partnership for hotel workers in New Orleans

Abstract Economic disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic left many households without the income necessary to meet basic needs. We describe an innovative, community-based partnership between a financial services company, philanthropic funders, and employers to provide financial assistance to hotel workers in New Orleans who lost jobs and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Results […]

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

Abstract 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 the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We launched a field experiment with a non-profit organization to explore how both informational- and testimonial-type text […]

Household Spending Patterns and Hardships during COVID-19: A Comparative Study of the U.S. and Israel

Abstract The combined supply and demand shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic have created the largest consumer behavior shift in recent history, while exposing millions of households to material hardships like food insecurity and housing instability. In this study, we draw on national surveys conducted early in the pandemic to investigate the pandemic’s effects on self-reported […]

Experimental Evidence on Consumption, Saving, and Family Formation Responses to Student Debt Forgiveness (Links to an external site)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income Universal basic income has gained renewed interest among policymakers and researchers in the U.S. While research indicates that unconditional cash transfers produce diverse benefits for households, public support lags in part due to the predicted unemployment and frivolous As policy-makers grapple with whether […]

How Would Americans Respond to Direct Cash Transfers? Results from Two Survey Experiments

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides substantial financial support to low-income Universal basic income has gained renewed interest among policymakers and researchers in the U.S. While research indicates that unconditional cash transfers produce diverse benefits for households, public support lags in part due to the predicted unemployment and frivolous spending. To understand how Americans […]

Disparate financial assistance support for small business owners

Small business owners experienced a drastic economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government pandemic assistance failed to reach many small business owners, especially those historically underserved by financial institutions. Drawing on a 2021 survey of 246 small business owners, the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis descriptively examined the extent to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

State-by-state: How are families in the U.S. using their Child Tax Credit payments?

The temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) is projected to cut American child poverty by more than half. The CTC expansion provides families with $3,600 for every child in the household under the age of six and $3,000 for every child between the ages of six and 17. The vast majority of U.S. […]

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 […]