How Do Government Benefits Affect Elections? Evidence from State Earned Income Tax Credits

47 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2019 Last revised: 14 May 2020

See all articles by Hunter Rendleman

Hunter Rendleman

Harvard University - Department of Government

Jesse Yoder

Stanford University

Date Written: September 16, 2019

Abstract

Whether and how individuals link benefits they receive from the government to their voting behavior is a central question in political economy. We study this question using one of the largest social provision programs in the United States: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). We exploit the staggered roll-out of state-level EITC programs to estimate the causal effect of the program on elections, voter behavior, and attitudes about the government. Contrary to predictions from the policy feedback literature, we show that the credit leads to higher vote shares and approval ratings for the implementing governor. These effects are temporally limited to the first years of the credit's availability, and dissipate over time. Taken together, our results suggest that voters are responsive to the benefit.

Keywords: Tax policy, state taxes, economic voting, policy feedback

Suggested Citation

Rendleman, Hunter and Yoder, Jesse, How Do Government Benefits Affect Elections? Evidence from State Earned Income Tax Credits (September 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3454684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3454684

Hunter Rendleman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://hunterrendleman.com

Jesse Yoder

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jesselyoder.com

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