Project: Income Volatility and Its Effect on Food Stamp Participation of the Working Poor
Award Year: 2004
Amount of award, fiscal 2004: $100,000.00
Institution: Lewin Group
Principal Investigator: Mary Farrell
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: Low participation rates for the working poor in the Food Stamp Program have long been a concern of policymakers. This is sometimes seen as evidence that the Food Stamp Program may not be fulfilling its primary purpose of providing food assistance to all in need. Another explanation is that nonparticipating households (especially those with a history of earnings) are eligible for only a short period of time and anticipate an increase in their earnings. Recent research has shown that non-participating households experience substantially more variability in their monthly income and earnings than participating households. This study will examine long term earnings patterns of the working poor to determine impacts on Food Stamp Program participation decisions.

The study will examine restricted-use research files of matched data from the 1996 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and earnings records from the Social Security Administration. The analysis will compare historical and future earnings patterns of post-welfare reform cohorts to differentiate Food Stamp Program participants and nonparticipants. Multivariate logit models of Food Stamp Program participation will be estimated determine the extent to which prior and future income fluctuations affect current participation decisions of working poor households. The study will also conduct a quality control analysis to assess the reliability of SIPP earnings data.

Topic: Income Volatility, Poverty, SNAP/Food Stamp Program
Dataset: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)
Elkin, S., and L. Turner. Longer Run Earnings and Food Stamp Participation, Contractor and Cooperator Report No. 46, USDA, ERS, July 2008.