A Census Bureau survey shows that the two latest rounds of pandemic relief checks helped Americans buy food, pay bills, and reduced anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
According to the Census Bureau survey, reports of food shortages were down by 42% in households with children from January through April. Financial instability fell 43%, and anxiety and depression fell more than 20%.
“We see an immediate decline among multiple lines of hardship concentrated among the most disadvantaged families,” H. Luke Shaefer, the co-author of the survey and a professor at the University of Michigan, said.
$585 billion in aid was distributed. Eligible taxpayers across the nation received $600 relief checks in April, and $1,400 relief checks were given in April. Starting in July, families will receive $300 for each child due to new child-tax credit.
“Cash aid offers families great flexibility to address their most pressing problems, and getting it out quickly is something the government knows how to do,” Shaefer said.
The survey revealed that the aid helped 5.2 million children eat.
Zachary Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University, said that these declines would have happened without aid because of tax credits.
“It’s not sustainable to just give people enough cash to eliminate poverty,” Scott Winship, who studies poverty at the American Enterprise Institute, said. “And in the long run, it can have negative consequences by reducing incentives to work and marry.”
However, the study cited another direct link between cash aid and hardship: after the government stopped supplementing jobless benefits last fall, food insufficiency among families with children rose nearly 25 percent.
“Throughout the crisis, the level of hardship faced by the U.S. households can be directly linked to the federal government’s response,” Shaefer and Patrick Cooney, co-author of the study, wrote.
Recipients of the relief checks’ mental health also improved markedly in the weeks after checks were sent out. The share of Americans saying they felt anxious for several or more days in a week fell to 52.8% last month from 68.6% in late December.