More evidence needed to determine if in-work tax credits provide health benefits for parents

More evidence needed to determine if in-work tax credits provide health benefits for parents

A just-published international systematic review has found a small and methodologically limited body of evidence which suggests that in-work tax credits such as the one applied in New Zealand since 2006, may have no discernible effects on the health of parents.

The findings are the result of the first-ever of the of IWTCs on parents in high-income countries, carried out by researchers from the University of Otago in Wellington, Harvard University and the University of Bristol.

While not principally designed to increase health, some have argued that IWTCs should increase the health of the population by providing income to families living in or at risk of poverty and by moving unemployed people into employment. In New Zealand, the In-Work Tax Credit is generally an end-of-year deduction from the total tax paid for low and middle income families, and contributes up to 7 per cent of national average income from wages.

All studies included in the review were from the United States. The review found low quality evidence for any effect of in-work tax credits on self-rated health, obesity and mental health in parents. There was inconclusive evidence for the effect of the intervention on tobacco use. Some studies suggested no effect on , while others suggested that IWTCs had reduced smoking in parents.

Lead researcher Frank Pega from the University of Otago and Harvard University says this latest international research shows that high quality evaluations of national IWTC schemes should be carried out in countries where these interventions exist.

"We must not ignore the importance of in-work tax credits as social protection interventions, but our research highlights that there is no high quality evidence to argue that these policies necessarily filter through to health improvements," Pega says.

The international research recent findings from a study also led by Pega that investigated the effect of New Zealand's In-Work Tax Credit on the self-rated health of 6900 parents over seven years. That study found that becoming eligible for the In-Work Tax Credit had no discernible effect on the self-rated health of New Zealand parents.

Pega notes that neither the review nor the research study assessed the effects of IWTCs on children, but that it is possible they have an effect on the of children. The systematic review was published by the Cochrane Public Health Group of The Cochrane Collaboration and is available in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Do antioxidants improve a woman's chances of conceiving?

Aug 04, 2013

There is no high quality evidence that antioxidant supplements help to increase a woman's chances of having a baby, according to the results of a new systematic review. The review, published in The Cochrane Library, found ...

Smoking prevention in schools: Does it work?

Apr 29, 2013

Smoking prevention in schools reduces the number of young people who will later become smokers, according to a new systematic review published in The Cochrane Library. For young people who have never smoked, these progra ...

Recommended for you

Can you train your brain to crave healthy foods?

46 minutes ago

The mere sight of a slice of gooey chocolate cake, a cheesy pizza, or a sizzling burger can drive us to eat these foods. In terms of evolution we show preference for high calorie foods as they are an important ...

What doctors say to LGBT teens matters

2 hours ago

When doctors speak to teens about sex and LGBT issues, only about 3 percent of them are doing so in a way that encourages LGBT teens to discuss their sexuality, and Purdue University researchers say other doctors can learn ...

Even without kids, couples eat frequent family meals

4 hours ago

Couples and other adult family members living without minors in the house are just as likely as adults living with young children or adolescents to eat family meals at home on most days of the week, new research suggests.

User comments