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As an unconditional cash gift, the income support examined in this study resembles European-style child allowances and the U.S. child tax credit. Findings from this study can also inform policy proposals across a host of U.S. federal and state programs:

  • The Earned Income Tax Credit requires recipients to have earnings, but it can transfer as much as $6,400 per year to low-income families.

  • SNAP requires that its payment be used for food purchases but effectively boosts family income by as much as $8,000 per year.

  • TANF benefits depend on work status and related state-directed rules. These benefits amount to about $5,000 per year in a typical state.

  • Housing Choice Vouchers are directed toward rent payments and typically provide the equivalent of $7,500 per year.


The benefit levels and coverage of almost all of these programs are fiercely debated in today’s budget battles. Virtually absent from these debates is evidence on the causal impact of proposed changes for the healthy development of young children, because the necessary evidence is not available.

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