Yep, Having More Money Is Good for Your Health (and Your Baby’s)


In 1990, a pregnant low-income mother with one child would have received an EITC tax credit of $1,250. A mother with two children would have received the same amount, because back then EITC didn’t take into account the number of children you had.

That changed in 1993, and the change was fully phased in by 1996. So in 1996, the first mother would have received $2,250, while the second mother would have received $3,750.

This provides us with the ability to perform a lovely little natural experiment. In the 1990 group, both pregnant mothers get the same amount of money, so you can use this as a baseline. In the 1996 group, pregnant mothers with two children get more money. Do their newborn babies do any better relative to this baseline? Last year a team of researchers did the legwork to find out, and as it turns out, the answer is yes:

We find that increased EITC income reduces the incidence of low birth weight and increases mean birth weight. For single low education (<= 12 years) mothers, a policy-induced treatment on the treated increase of $1000 in EITC income is associated with a 6.7 to 10.8 percent reduction in the low birth weight rate.

So an extra $1,000 produces about a 10 percent reduction in low birth weights. That’s a pretty persuasive argument that having more money really does produce better health. As Bill Gardner puts it, “The bottom line is that redistributing income to poor families improves the health of their infants. It is, in effect, a form of prenatal care.”

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate