“Does Growing Up in Tax-Subsidized Housing Lead to Higher Earnings and Educational Attainment?” This paper investigates the effects of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) on residents of buildings qualifying for the credit. Specifcally, it analyzes whether individuals who grow up in LIHTC housing are more likely to enroll in post-secondary education programs and have higher earnings as adults. Using administrative tax records, I find that each additional year spent in LIHTC housing as a child is associated with an average 4.3 percent increase in the likelihood of attending a higher education program for four years or more, and a 5.7 percent increase in future earnings. Furthermore, I find that there are heterogeneous effects when comparing individuals who live in LIHTC housing located in neighborhoods with different characteristics, and among families that have varying income levels and varying levels of housing security prior to moving into a LIHTC building. Based on this analysis, it is likely that the housing subsidy provides some families with a more stable living situation and with more disposable income.
“Savings Responses to Auto-Enrollment: Evidence from a Large Panel of Worker-Employer Linked Data” with Jake Mortenson, Heidi Schramm, and Kathleen Mackie This paper evaluates the effects of automatically enrolling new employees in defined contribution retirement plans on employees' retirement savings contributions. We construct an original data set of employees at 760 US-based firms that adopted automatic enrollment between 2010 and 2016. We augment these employer-employee linked data (Form 5500 and Form W2) with information from the employee's tax return, as well as information on withdrawals from retirement savings accounts and contributions to IRAs. We then estimate retirement saving and withdrawal effects - for employees and their spouses - by comparing workers who were hired in the years before and after each firm adopted automatic enrollment. We estimate that automatic enrollment increases plan participation for new employees by approximately 40 percent (24 percentage points) and increases retirement savings contributions (as a percent of wages) by around 30 percent (0.9 percentage points). Spouses do not appear to substantially alter their retirement contributions or withdrawals when their spouse is automatically enrolled. However, automatic enrollment increases the likelihood an employee will take a withdrawal from retirement savings by roughly 20 percent (3 percentage points) on average. This withdrawal effect is largest among low-wage employees, for whom changes in net savings resulting from automatic enrollment is indistinguishable from zero.