A new study by the Department of Epidemiology and Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center examines the association between state-earned income tax credit (EITC) policies and reported depressive symptoms and alcohol misuse among birthing parents.
Researchers looked at birthing parents who responded to the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Survey and found 28.5% of parents overall reporting binge drinking in the three months prior to conception. However, parents living in states which offered an EITC were 4% less likely to report this heavy episodic alcohol use.
In addition to fewer reports of chronic and episodic heavy alcohol use among individuals who had recently given birth, parents with no more than a high school education and living in states with an EITC, reported fewer depressive symptoms before conception and after birth. The reductions in episodic alcohol misuse and depressive symptoms were also more pronounced among parents who were unmarried at the time of the birth—a population that is more likely to benefit from the EITC.
“Having policies like the earned income tax credit, may help reduce the burden of alcohol misuse, especially amongst people with children,” says lead author, Erin Morgan, PhD.
Overall, for most parents, the study found that generally there was no relationship between state EITC generosity and fewer depressive symptoms either pre- or post-pregnancy.
“While there are limited impacts of state EITC on depressive symptoms in the general population, there seem to be benefits for some of the most vulnerable members of the population during a critical period in life. Examining the mental health and substance misuse impacts of the policy on people with children is important in exploring benefits of the policy beyond the economic impact of EITC,” says Dr. Morgan.
This study was funded by grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention U01 CE002945-01
The investigators represented the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center (HIPRC); the Departments of Epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health; UW Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance; and the Departments of Pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine.
This study was published in Preventative Medicine Reports.