Project: Interactions Between the Food Stamp Program and the Economy
Award Year: 2007
Amount of award, fiscal 2007: $185,000.00
Institution: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Laura Castner
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: Historically, changes in the country's economic conditions significantly affect participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). For example, FSP caseloads usually fall during periods of economic growth as the number of unemployed and poor people decreases. However the continued increase in FSP caseloads in FY 2007, even after taking in account the typical lag between changes in caseloads and economic conditions, suggests that other factors may be influencing participation. Possible factors include Federal and State policy changes that promote participation. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches, this project will investigate changes in food stamp participation as related to measures of economic activity and FSP policies. In addition to examining effects on the aggregate FSP caseload, the study will separately analyze changes in the number of individuals eligible for the program and the participation rate among those eligible. As a first step, the increase in the number of participants by State will be decomposed according to the change in the number of eligibles and the change in the participation rate. Next, multivariate techniques will be used to identify the relationship between the caseload changes and economic and FSP policy variables. Both static and dynamic models will be estimated using State-level cross-section time-series data from administrative data and microsimulation models for the period 1999-2006. Simulations will compare the relative effects of FSP policies and economic factors. Policy variables will include measures of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) issuance, reporting requirements, availability of online applications, vehicle exemptions, and outreach expenditures. Measures of economic activity will include State unemployment rate, minimum wage, and wage distribution. Findings from the multivariate analysis will be supplemented by a select survey of FSP administrators and community organizations in four States exhibiting unique characteristics.
Topic: Macroeconomic Conditions, SNAP/Food Stamp Program
Mabli, J., E. Martin, and L. Castner. Effects of Economic Conditions and Program Policy on State Food Stamp Program Caseloads, 2000 to 2006, Contractor and Cooperator Report No. 56, USDA, ERS, August 2009.