Title

Are Household Food Expenditures Responsive to Entry Into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-6-2015

Publication Source

Social Science Quarterly

Volume

96

Issue

4

Inclusive pages

1086-1102

DOI

10.1111/ssqu.12197

Abstract

Objective

This study examines changes in household food expenditures in the months directly around entry into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Methods

Using monthly data on SNAP participation from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we estimate food-expenditures-to-food-needs ratio with an event-study specification.

Results

Upon entering the program, a substantially lower share of out-of-pocket spending accounts for SNAP households’ food budgets. However, these expenditures are largely replaced with SNAP benefits, resulting in little changes in total food expenditures. We also identify the co-occurrence of household economic shocks at the point of SNAP entry.

Conclusion

SNAP entry is preceded by reduced rates of employment and marriage among heads of households, suggesting that household economic shocks may trigger SNAP entry. We find that SNAP benefits visibly appear to act as an important safety net for households who have recently entered the program, cushioning them from the extent of a negative shock in food expenditures that they might otherwise have faced.

Disciplines

Economics

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