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Does SNAP serve as a safety net for mothers facing an economic shock? An analysis of Black and White unwed mothers' responses to paternal imprisonment

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  • Chung, Yiyoon

Abstract

In an era of increasing economic insecurity and declining welfare assistance, scholars and policy makers have increasingly recognized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) as an important safety net for disadvantaged families facing a loss of income. Research on welfare and race has found that SNAP use is more frequent among Black families than White families. However, scholars have overlooked another potential source of race-based variation in the use of SNAP: differences in how Black and White mothers use SNAP as a safety net when facing an economic shock such as fathers' imprisonment. Analyses using difference-in-difference-in-difference methods suggest that while Black mothers generally receive a higher level of SNAP benefits than White mothers, SNAP benefit increases following fathers' imprisonment are less effective in compensating for the loss of income among Black mothers than among White mothers. Additional analyses, including a propensity score matching model, produce consistent results. The racial difference in income shock to families caused by paternal imprisonment does not account for this racial disparity. These findings highlight an important mechanism through which an income shock such as paternal imprisonment can produce particularly negative consequences for Black children.

Suggested Citation

  • Chung, Yiyoon, 2015. "Does SNAP serve as a safety net for mothers facing an economic shock? An analysis of Black and White unwed mothers' responses to paternal imprisonment," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 179-192.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:57:y:2015:i:c:p:179-192
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.08.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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