Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, in partnership with Children’s HealthWatch, conducted an HIA to examine the potential health effects of creating a state-level, refundable earned income tax credit (EITC). Specifically, it considered how an EITC could affect Arkansas residents’ general health, children’s health, maternal depressive symptoms, low birth weight, childhood development delays, and obesity.
The assessment found that an Arkansas EITC would improve economic conditions and potentially promote health for households with children and would lower health services use and health care costs. Further, an EITC in Arkansas would likely decrease the frequency of low-birth-weight births, improve children’s Behavior Problems Index scores, and reduce adult obesity.
Based on the HIA’s findings, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and Children’s HealthWatch recommended a state-level refundable EITC set at 15% of the federal credit to maximize potential health benefits at a reasonable cost to the state.
Both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature considered EITC measures in 2019. That March, the Senate passed a bill to create a state EITC equal to 5% of the federal level that would be funded through taxes on tobacco products. In the House, however, legislation to create a 10% EITC did not get a vote. Although lawmakers did not take final action on creating the state credit, the HIA provided critical context on the relationship between such economic issues and health.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.