American Indians have the highest poverty rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Because families’ financial circumstances have short- and long-term effects on children’s outcomes, alleviating family economic hardship when children are young may improve these outcomes in the long run. This study will analyze the effect of unconditional tribal cash transfers during childhood on subsequent young adult outcomes, as well as intergenerational income mobility between parents and children. To do so, Akee and colleagues will create a novel data set that links individual-level U.S. Census and IRS data for American Indian children to their employment, wages, marital status, single parenthood, and total household income as young adults (ages 18-25). Using data from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the team will also identify families that were provided cash transfers at different points in time and across different geographic regions. Next, the team will apply difference-in-difference models to analyze outcomes for American Indian young adults whose households received casino transfers, American Indians who did not receive the transfer, and non-American Indian residents of comparable counties who would never be eligible for tribal cash transfers. Finally, regression models will estimate whether cash transfers during childhood impact the income ranking of young adult children relative to their parents’ income rank. This study is the first to examine the effect of tribal cash transfers for all American Indian tribes across multiple dimensions of individual wellbeing and on intergenerational mobility. Findings may inform broader policy debates about universal basic income programs as a means of reducing inequality.
Do tribal cash transfers reduce the intergenerational transmission of poverty and improve outcomes for American Indian young adults?