This paper investigates how saving the federal tax refund affects gig economy participation for low-income online tax filers in the six months following tax filing. Using longitudinal survey and administrative data, we leverage random assignment in a unique refund savings experiment as an instrument for refund savings. We find significant heterogeneity in estimated effects that are consistent with life cycle models on consumption and savings. Specifically, refund savings reduced the likelihood of low-income students working in the gig economy, but increased the likelihood of more economically vulnerable households working in the gig economy. (JEL J22, D14, G51).
Bufe, Sam; Roll, Stephen P.; Kondratjeva, Olga; Hardy, Bradley; and Grinstein-Weiss, Michal, “Does Savings Affect Participation in the Gig Economy? Evidence from a Tax Refund Field Experiment” (2020). Social Policy Institute Research. 16.