Child-Related Transfers, Household Labor Supply and Welfare

What are the macroeconomic effects of transfers to households with children? How do alternative policies fare in welfare terms? We answer these questions in an equilibrium life-cycle model with household labor supply decisions, skill losses of females associated to non participation, and heterogeneity in terms of fertility, childcare expenditures and access to informal care. Calibrating our model to the U.S. economy, we first provide a roadmap for policy evaluation by contrasting transfers that are conditional on market work (childcare subsidies and childcare credits) with those that are not (child credits), when both types can be means tested or universal. We then evaluate expansions of current arrangements for the U.S., and find that expansions of conditional transfers have substantial positive effects on female labor supply, that are largest at the bottom of the skill distribution. Expanding childcare credits leads to long-run increases in the participation of married females of 10.6%, while an equivalent expansion of child credits leads to the opposite (-2.4%). Expanding existing programs generates substantial welfare gains for newborn households, which are largest for less-skilled households. Expanding childcare credits leads to the largest welfare gains for newborns and achieves majority support.

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