Does Savings Affect Participation in the Gig Economy? Evidence from a Tax Refund Field Experiment

42 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by Sam Bufe

Sam Bufe

Washington University in St. Louis

Stephen Roll

Washington University in St. Louis

Olga Kondratjeva

Washington University in St. Louis

Bradley Hardy

American University

Michal Grinstein-Weiss

Washington University in St. Louis - George Warren Brown School of Social Work

Date Written: June 15, 2020

Abstract

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.

Keywords: gig economy, tax refund, field experiment

JEL Classification: J22, D14, G51

Suggested Citation

Bufe, Sam and Roll, Stephen and Kondratjeva, Olga and Hardy, Bradley and Grinstein-Weiss, Michal, Does Savings Affect Participation in the Gig Economy? Evidence from a Tax Refund Field Experiment (June 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3627499 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3627499

Sam Bufe (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
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314-600-8231 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://socialpolicyinstitute.wustl.edu/people/sam-bufe/

Stephen Roll

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1208
Saint Louis, MO MO 63130-4899
United States

Olga Kondratjeva

Washington University in St. Louis

Bradley Hardy

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Michal Grinstein-Weiss

Washington University in St. Louis - George Warren Brown School of Social Work ( email )

St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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