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Consumption Responses to In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Introduction of the Food Stamp Program

  • Hilary W. Hoynes
  • Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Economists have strong theoretical predictions about how in-kind transfers, such as providing vouchers for food, impact consumption. Despite the prominence of the theory, there is little empirical work on responses to in-kind transfers, and most existing work fails to support the canonical theoretical model. We employ difference-indifference methods to estimate the impact of program introduction on food spending. Consistent with predictions, we find that food stamps reduce out-of-pocket food spending and increase overall food expenditures. We also find that households are inframarginal and respond similarly to one dollar in cash income and one dollar in food stamps. (JEL D12, H23, I38)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 109-39

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:4:p:109-39
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.4.109
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