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Effects of the Expanded Child Tax Credit on Household Expenditures:Preliminary Intent-to-Treat Estimates from the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Sophie M. Collyer, Thesia Garner, Neeraj Kaushal, Jiwan Lee, Jake Schild, Jane Waldfogel, and Christopher T. Wimer


The Child Tax Credit (CTC) was substantially expanded through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, making the benefit more generous, fully refundable, and more periodic. Early studies documented the positive impact of the expanded CTC on reducing poverty and food hardship, but there is no research on its impact on household spending, and particularly spending on children. We apply a series of difference-in-difference estimates using newly available data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) collected through September 2021 to examine whether the expanded CTC increased expenditures, both overall and for targeted categories such as spending on children's education and development. We note that this paper provides only a first preliminary look at expenditures using partial and incomplete data from the first two months of the expanded payments. Future iterations will examine the full effects of the payments on more complete data. We find positive and statistically significant intent-to-treat effects for spending on food, children’s clothing, and childcare, although results vary across specifications. This study, particularly once data for the full period are available, will add to a growing body of evidence on the effects of the expanded CTC on U.S. households’ economic well-being, and provide information as to its potential role in improving child well-being.