The Economic Consequences of Reducing the Implicit Tax Rate: Evidence from a Housing Voucher Program

Last registered on August 10, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Economic Consequences of Reducing the Implicit Tax Rate: Evidence from a Housing Voucher Program
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008040
Initial registration date
August 06, 2021
Last updated
August 10, 2021, 3:35 PM EDT

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Notre Dame

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-07-01
End date
2024-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The goal of this study is to estimate the causal impact of reducing the share of income that housing voucher recipients must pay towards rent on outcomes including labor supply and financial wellbeing. The investigators will collect data from housing voucher recertifications, credit reporting agencies, and an annual participant survey covering physical, mental, and financial wellbeing and employment and earnings. Outcomes will be collected for 180 control and 100 treatment households. The investigators will compare these outcomes for those who did and did not receive a reduction in their required rent payments.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Kluender, Raymond and Evan Mast. 2021. "The Economic Consequences of Reducing the Implicit Tax Rate: Evidence from a Housing Voucher Program." AEA RCT Registry. August 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8040-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

Sponsors

Partner

Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2021-07-01
Intervention End Date
2024-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Earnings
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Annual Total Earned Income as reported in biennial recertifications conducted by Metro Housing Boston for administration of the voucher program.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Income Domain
Outcome 1:
• Title: Typical two-week earnings
• Description: Response to “Including all of your jobs, what are your earnings in a typical two-week period?”
• Timeframe: Typical two-week lookback as collected in the biannual survey.

Outcome 2:
• Title: Hourly wage
• Description: Response to “What is your hourly wage at your main job?”
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in biannual survey.

Labor Supply Domain
Outcome 1:
• Title: Hours worked per week
• Description: Response to “Including all of your jobs, how many hours do you usually work per week? As above, please include all sources of income, even jobs where you may only work for an hour or two per week.” (if multiple jobs) or “How many hours do you usually work per week at your main job?” (if one job).
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in biannual survey.

Subjective Wellbeing Domain
Outcome 1:
• Title: Happiness
• Description: Response to “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days - would you say that you are Very Happy, Pretty Happy, or Not Too Happy?"
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in biannual survey.

Mental Health Domain
Outcome 1:
• Title: 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) Depression Scale
• Description: Scores on the 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire depression scale range from 0 to 24, with higher scores indicating greater severity of depression.
• Timeframe: Two-week lookback reference period, as collected in biannual survey.

Outcome 2:
• Title: 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD7) Scale
• Description: Scores on the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale range from 0 to 21, with higher scores indicating greater severity of anxiety.
• Timeframe: Two-week lookback reference period, as collected in biannual survey.

Government Benefit Receipt
Outcomes 1-4:
• Title: Household government benefit receipt
• Description: Binary response to: “In the last 12 months, did you or anyone in your household receive any of the following government benefits?”
o Separate responses for: (a) Medicaid, Medicare, or other government health insurance benefits; (b) Social Security retirement benefits; (c) SSI, SSDI, or other monetary government assistance; (d) SNAP or food stamps
• Timeframe: 12-month lookback as collected in the biannual survey.

Financial Wellbeing
Outcome 1:
• Title: CFPB Financial Well-being Scale
• Description: Scores on the 5-item abbreviated CFPB Financial Well-being Scale range from 0 to 20, with higher scores indicating greater levels of financial well-being.
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in the biannual survey.

Outcome 2:
• Title: Ability to pay bills
• Description: Response to: “Which best describes your ability to pay all of your bills in full this month?”
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in the biannual survey.

Reliance on Alternative Banking Services
Outcome 1:
• Title: Reliance on alternative banking services
• Description: Binary response to any of the options provided in the question: “In the past 12 months, did you (and/or your spouse if applicable):”
o Responses including: (a) Purchase a money order from a place other than a bank; (b) Cash a check at a place other than a bank; (c) Take out a payday loan or payday advance; (d) Take out a pawn shop loan or an auto title loan; (e) Obtain a tax refund advance to receive your refund faster”
• Timeframe: 12-month lookback as collected in the biannual survey.

Emergency Savings
Outcome 1:
• Title: $400 expense
• Description: Response to “Suppose that you have an emergency expense that costs $400. Based on your current financial situation, how would you pay for this expense? Please select all that apply.” Variable will be coded as requiring the respondent to borrow money, sell something, or report being unable to pay for the expense.
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous, as collected in the biannual survey.

Marginal Use of Money
Outcome 1:
• Title: Expected Use of Rent Rebate
• Description: Response to “When you receive a cash payment from Working to Opportunity, what do you expect to do: Mostly spend it; mostly save it; or, mostly use it to pay off debt?”
• Timeframe: Expectations will be asked in advance of receiving the rebate. Later iterations of the questions will ask the households how they used the money.

Credit Supply
Outcome 1:
• Title: Credit Score
• Description: Credit Score, as provided by credit bureau data
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous to credit pulls which will happen periodically during the post-period depending on data acquired by the implementing partner.

Access to Credit
Outcome 1:
• Title: Credit Limit
• Description: Sum of credit limits across credit cards
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous to credit pulls which will happen periodically during the post-period depending on data acquired by the implementing partner.

Debt in Collections
Outcome 1
• Title: Amount of debt in collections
• Description: Sum of debt in collections
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous to credit pulls which will happen periodically during the post-period depending on data acquired by the implementing partner.

Outcome 2
• Title: Account balances past due
• Description: Sum of account balances for (non-medical) tradelines with payments 30+ days past due
• Timeframe: Contemporaneous to credit pulls which will happen periodically during the post-period depending on data acquired by the implementing partner.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We are conducting a randomized-controlled trial (RCT) to estimate the impact of reducing the phase-out rate of housing voucher benefits on labor supply and other measures of well-being.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer with stratification on earned income quartile and whether there are children in the household.

In order to account for attrition before our intervention, we randomize 295 households into treatment and control, accepting into the experiment those who fill out our baseline survey until we reach 100 treatment and 180 control households.
Randomization Unit
Household
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
280 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
280 Households with observations drawn from 7 surveys would yield 1,960 observations, though some attrition from the housing program and survey non-response is expected. Each household will have one set of observations of data required to administer their voucher at baseline and 1-2 observations during the course of the experiment depending on the timing of their prior certification. Credit reports will be purchased and total observations will depend on the frequency of data purchased by the implementing partner (e.g., quarterly, biannually).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
100 treatment, 180 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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