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Guest lecture

Welfare, Taxes and Marriage in US and NZ

Event series: 

Abstract from Dr John Fitzgerald's Guest Lecture presented at the Treasury on 12 June 2007.


Dr John Fitzgerald

Bowdoin College, United States

JOHN M. FITZGERALD is the William Shipman Professor and past chair of the economics department at Bowdoin College in the US. He has published on topics of welfare use, marriage models, attrition in surveys, and impact of welfare reform on family structure. His current research interests include the valuation of household production and the effects of government welfare and anti-poverty programs on family well-being, employment, and marriage and childbearing. He is an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty and has also been an Honorary Fellow at the University of Wisconsin and an American Statistical Association/ Census Fellow at the U.S. Bureau of the Census in Washington D.C. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Currently he is visiting the University of Auckland and has received a Visiting Research Fellowship from the NZ Treasury.


Government tax and welfare programs alter the returns to work as well as the financial returns to marriage or partnering. The talk focuses on literature regarding the impact of welfare, taxes, and the in-work tax credit, (a wage supplement) on marriage and family structure. In the 1990s the US pursued welfare reform and expanded its in-work tax credit for low income families coincident with an economic boom. The talk begins with two questions: What were the outcomes of these policy changes for low income families for work, well being and family structure? Given the combination of events, can we detangle the impacts of the various policies and, if so, how? That is, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of different program evaluation methods that were used? The talk then addresses the relevance of this discussion for NZ, particularly to the recent expansion of family assistance, and presents some preliminary analyses regarding partnering and employment based on NZ household data.

Last updated: 
Monday, 15 October 2007