Poverty Alleviation Policies and Health

Research has shown the crucial importance of income support for families to improve health and healthy equity. Researchers at the SPHERE Center work to better understand the health impacts of specific anti-poverty policies, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. We examine associations between these anti-poverty measures and short- and long-term health to better inform policy design and implementation.


Effects of the Child Tax Credit on Health

The U.S. Congress temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide economic assistance for families with children. Although formerly the CTC provided $2,000 per child for mostly middle-income parents, from July-December 2021 it provided up to $3,600 per child.

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Recent Publications:

Effects of the EITC on Health  

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the largest poverty-alleviation program for families with children in the U.S. Established in 1975, the program provides low- and moderate-income workers with a tax refund, and it has strong bipartisan support.  Over 25 million tax filers participate in the program each year, receiving an average credit of about $2500. Certain states have also introduced similar programs for their residents. SPHERE’s research examines how these programs impact the health and well-being of recipients and their children.

Funding: NHLBI K08; UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; UCSF Hellman Fellows Fund; UCSF Irene Perstein Award

Recent Publications:

Take-Up of the EITC and CTC

While the EITC and CTC have been shown to lower the poverty rate and improve health, not everyone who is eligible for these programs participates in them. Our research looks at take-up rates of these two cash support programs, and seeks to understand the barriers to participation and how to boost participation among eligible families.

Funding: Star-Friedman Challenge Award; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Tipping Point; UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations; UC Berkeley Population Center

Recent Publications: