Postdoctoral Researcher

About Jacob Bastian

Jacob Bastian is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy. His research focuses on how public policy can reduce poverty, increase economic opportunity, and encourage egalitarian social attitudes. Specifically, his current research looks at the Earned Income Tax Credit and finds that this program helped lead to the rise of working mothers in the 1970s (PDF), improved the education and employment outcomes of children of EITC recipients (PDF), changed social attitudes about the role of women in society (PDF), and had positive effects on marriage and fertility (PDF). 

Jacob is on the 2018-2019 job market. His job market paper “Do EITC Expansions Pay for Themselves? Effects on Tax Revenue and Public Assistance Spending” studies how behavioral responses to the EITC affect the program's budgetary cost: The EITC encourages labor supply and increases income, thereby reducing public assistance payments to households and increasing taxes paid by households. These sources of revenue reduce the EITC's effective cost. He uses administrative Internal Revenue Service tax data linked to Current Population Survey data on enrollment in public assistance programs to estimate the EITC's net cost. The evidence from three decades of EITC policy expansions implies that the EITC decreases public assistance received by mothers and increases payroll and sales taxes paid. The estimates suggest that the EITC has a self-financing rate of 87 percent, so that the EITC's true cost is only 13 percent of the “sticker price.” Although the EITC is one of the largest and most important public assistance programs in the U.S., he shows that the EITC is actually one of the least expensive anti-poverty programs in the U.S., costing taxpayers about half as much as the school lunch and breakfast programs.

Jacob's dissertation was chosen as a winner of the 2017 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertations in Government Finance and Taxation by the National Tax Association.

His research fields include labor and public economics, economic demography, and economic history. Before at the University of Chicago, Jacob completed a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Michigan, as well as an M.A. in Economics at New York University and a B.A. in Mathematics.