Food Stamp Dynamics Across Rural and Urban Landscapes in the Era of Welfare Reform

Year: 2001

Research Center: Southern Rural Development Center, Mississippi State University

Investigator: Parisi, Domenico, Duane A. Gill, Steven Michael Grice, Michael Taquino, and Deborah Harris

Institution: Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University

Project Contact:
Domenico Parisi, Assistant Professor
Mississippi State University
P.O. Box 5287
Mississippi State, MS 39762-5287
Phone: 662-325-8065


Welfare reform has encouraged researchers to develop new conceptual and empirical frameworks for examining low-income populations. The authors extend previous research by integrating into a single model the influence of individual, place, and geographic-setting characteristics on Food Stamp Program (FSP) participation dynamics. They tested whether local resources influence the dynamics of FSP participation. They also gauged the effect of spatial inequality, in terms of economic resources and social resources, across rural and urban populations.

The authors estimate that FSP recipients who exited the program were most likely to do so between the 1st and 13th months following passage of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The probability of exit leveled off by the end of the second year after the passage of the welfare reform legislation.

The authors used logistic regression analysis to estimate the effect of individual and community characteristics on the probability that an individual stopped receiving food stamps during the year after passage of the welfare reform legislation. The community characteristics included as explanatory variables in the regression analysis were measures of local labor market conditions, measures of civic capacity (such as the number of churches per person), and indexes that measure how active local organizations are in addressing issues such as poverty and unemployment. They also examined the variation in the probability of exiting the FSP across metropolitan and nonmetropolitan regions of Mississippi.

The estimation results indicated that Whites were more likely to stop receiving food stamps than African- Americans and that households without children were more likely to stop receiving food stamps than those with children. The community characteristics with the largest estimated effect on the probability of individuals leaving the FSP were the indexes of community activity in addressing local issues. Individuals in communities with organizations that focus on job promotion and with churches actively engaged in local issues were more likely to exit the FSP than individuals in communities without those organizations. In addition, FSP recipients in nonmetropolitan regions were less likely to exit the program than those in metropolitan regions, and those in the Delta region were the least likely to exit the program.

The authors conclude that individual and community characteristics are important factors to predict exit from the FSP. They suggest that future research focus on the extent to which policies resulting from welfare reform legislation affect declines in Food Stamp Program participation at the community level.