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Food Prices and the Timing of Welfare Payments: A Canadian Study


  • Georges Tanguay
  • Gary Hunt
  • Nicolas Marceau


This is a study of the relationship between the timing of social welfare payments and the price of food for one neighbourhood in Montreal. Using prices of 31 grocery products over 26 weeks and across seven stores, we obtain two main results. First, we show that the availability of social welfare resources affects grocery prices throughout the month. Second, average grocery prices are lowest during cheque-receipt week and rise by 6.8 percent to 11.72 percent over the remainder of the monthly social welfare cycle. We argue that these results are consistent with social welfare recipients having progressively less resources for transportation over a month and therefore are more reliant on local grocery stores.

Suggested Citation

  • Georges Tanguay & Gary Hunt & Nicolas Marceau, 2005. "Food Prices and the Timing of Welfare Payments: A Canadian Study," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 31(2), pages 145-160, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:31:y:2005:i:2:p:145-160

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Glazer, Amihai, 1981. "Advertising, Information, and Prices-A Case Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(4), pages 661-671, October.
    2. Barton L. Lipman, 1995. "Information Processing and Bounded Rationality: A Survey," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(1), pages 42-67, February.
    3. Alcaly, Roger E & Klevorick, Alvin K, 1971. "Food Prices in Relation to Income Levels in New York City," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(4), pages 380-397, October.
    4. Parke E. Wilde & Christine K. Ranney, 2000. "The Monthly Food Stamp Cycle: Shooping Frequency and Food Intake Decisions in an Endogenous Switching Regression Framework," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(1), pages 200-213.
    5. Beck, Nathaniel & Katz, Jonathan N. & Alvarez, R. Michael & Garrett, Geoffrey & Lange, Peter, 1993. "Government Partisanship, Labor Organization, and Macroeconomic Performance: A Corrigendum," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 87(04), pages 945-948, December.
    6. MacDonald, James M. & Nelson, Paul Jr., 1991. "Do the poor still pay more? Food price variations in large metropolitan areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 344-359, November.
    7. MacDonald, James M, 2000. "Demand, Information, and Competition: Why Do Food Prices Fall at Seasonal Demand Peaks?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 27-45, March.
    8. Tanguay, Georges & Hunt, Gary & Marceau, Nicolas, 2002. "Using a Canadian-American Natural Experiment to Study Relative Efficiencies of Social Welfare Payment Systems," Cahiers de recherche 0205, CIRPEE.
    9. Glaeser, E. L., 1998. "Should transfer payments be indexed to local price levels?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-20, January.
    10. Bruce L. Benson & Merle D. Faminow, 1985. "An Alternative View of Pricing in Retail Food Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 67(2), pages 296-306.
    11. Tanguay, Georges & Vallee, Luc & Lanoie, Paul, 1995. "Shopping Hours and Price Levels in the Retailing Industry: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 516-524, July.
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