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How do families who receive the CCTB and NCB spend the money?

TitleHow do families who receive the CCTB and NCB spend the money?
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsJones, L. E., Milligan K. S., and Stabile M.
InstitutionUniversity of Toronto
CityToronto, ON

Programs designed to transfer income to low-income families are common in many jurisdictions. The National Child Benefit (NCB) and Canadian Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) in Canada, the Earned Income Tax Credit in the United States, and the Working and Child Tax Credits in the UK are some examples. Each of these programs provides cash transfers that can be spent at the discretion of the recipient, and they tend to be either exclusively available to families with children or more generous for such families. While such programs often have multiple goals, one common policy aim is to improve the lives and chances of children in these families, and to lift them out of poverty. There is an increasing amount of research that shows that these programs are successful in helping low-income families. They improve children's performance in school, they improve child (and maternal) mental health, and they even have positive benefits for kids' physical health.1 The question of how transfer programs achieve these results remains unanswered. How, exactly, do families spend transfer income in order to improve the outcomes of children? This paper summarizes recent research that we have conducted and provides some evidence on how families actually spend the money they receive. The results give some insight into how providing money to low-income families helps improve outcomes for children.

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