IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jfpoli/v95y2020ics030691922030141x.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Local food prices and the purchasing power of SNAP benefits

Author

Listed:
  • Christensen, Garret
  • Bronchetti, Erin Todd

Abstract

While the nominal value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits is fixed across states (except for Hawaii and Alaska), variation in food prices across the U.S. is dramatic. We provide new evidence describing geographic variation in the purchasing power of SNAP benefits, measured by the extent to which SNAP-recipient households are able to afford the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food plan on which legislated SNAP benefit levels are based. For more than one-quarter of SNAP households, SNAP benefits are too low to cover the cost of the TFP at the primary stores where they report shopping. SNAP purchasing power increases somewhat as we assume households can travel farther to shop and increases much more with the assumed ability to identify and travel to the lowest-cost store in a given area. It is unlikely, however, that SNAP households are sufficiently informed and mobile to shop at the lowest-cost store in a large (e.g., 10 to 20-mile) geographic area. We demonstrate that aggregate dollar shortfalls for SNAP households who cannot afford the TFP could be completely eliminated by redistributing from households in low-cost areas to those in high-cost areas, e.g., by indexing SNAP benefits to local food prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Christensen, Garret & Bronchetti, Erin Todd, 2020. "Local food prices and the purchasing power of SNAP benefits," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 95(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:95:y:2020:i:c:s030691922030141x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2020.101937
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030691922030141X
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.foodpol.2020.101937?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Linlin Fan & Kathy Baylis & Craig Gundersen & Michele Ver Ploeg, 2018. "Does a nutritious diet cost more in food deserts?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 49(5), pages 587-597, September.
    2. Elton Mykerezi & Bradford Mills, 2010. "The Impact of Food Stamp Program Participation on Household Food Insecurity," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1379-1391.
    3. Gregory, Christian A. & Deb, Partha, 2015. "Does SNAP improve your health?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 11-19.
    4. Todd, Jessica E. & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Penberthy, Corttney, 2011. "Geographic Differences in the Relative Price of Healthy Foods," Economic Information Bulletin 117976, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. David Albouy, 2009. "The Unequal Geographic Burden of Federal Taxation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(4), pages 635-667, August.
    6. Nord, Mark & Golla, Anne Marie, 2009. "Does SNAP Decrease Food Insecurity? Untangling the Self-Selection Effect," Economic Research Report 55955, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    7. Leibtag, Ephraim & Kumcu, Aylin, 2011. "The WIC Fruit and Vegetable Cash Voucher: Does Regional Price Variation Affect Buying Power?," Economic Information Bulletin 291947, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    8. Stefano DellaVigna & Matthew Gentzkow, 2019. "Uniform Pricing in U.S. Retail Chains," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 134(4), pages 2011-2084.
    9. Steven T. Yen & Margaret Andrews & Zhuo Chen & David B. Eastwood, 2008. "Food Stamp Program Participation and Food Insecurity: An Instrumental Variables Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(1), pages 117-132.
    10. Lucie Schmidt & Lara Shore-Sheppard & Tara Watson, 2016. "The Effect of Safety-Net Programs on Food Insecurity," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(3), pages 589-614.
    11. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2012. "The impact of long‐term participation in the supplemental nutrition assistance program on child obesity," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 386-404, April.
    12. Douglas Almond & Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2011. "Inside the War on Poverty: The Impact of Food Stamps on Birth Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 387-403, May.
    13. Metin Çakır & Timothy K M Beatty & Michael A Boland & Timothy A Park & Samantha Snyder & Yanghao Wang, 2018. "Spatial and Temporal Variation in the Value of the Women, Infants, and Children Program’s Fruit and Vegetable Voucher," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(3), pages 691-706.
    14. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Mancino, Lisa & Todd, Jessica E. & Clay, Dawn Marie & Scharadin, Benjamin, 2015. "Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel To Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey," Economic Information Bulletin 262116, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    15. Christian A. Gregory & Alisha Coleman-Jensen, 2013. "Do High Food Prices Increase Food Insecurity in the United States?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 679-707.
    16. Hilary Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Douglas Almond, 2016. "Long-Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(4), pages 903-934, April.
    17. Todd, Jessica E. & Mancino, Lisa & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Tripodo, Christina, 2010. "Methodology Behind Quarterly Food- at- Home Price Database," Technical Bulletins 184309, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    18. Bronchetti, Erin T. & Christensen, Garret & Hoynes, Hilary W., 2019. "Local food prices, SNAP purchasing power, and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    19. Todd, Jessica E. & Mancino, Lisa & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Tripodo, Christina, 2010. "Methodology Behind the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database," Technical Bulletins 97799, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Bai, Yan & Costlow, Leah & Ebel, Alissa & Laves, Sarah & Ueda, Yurika & Volin, Natalie & Zamek, Maya & Herforth, Anna & Masters, William A., 2021. "Review: Retail consumer price data reveal gaps and opportunities to monitor food systems for nutrition," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    2. Sabrina K. Young & Hayden Stewart, 2022. "U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Affordability on the Thrifty Food Plan Depends on Purchasing Power and Safety Net Supports," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(5), pages 1-12, February.
    3. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Scharadin, Benjamin & Miller, Lauren & Gonzalez, Jeffrey & Odom, Rodney, 2024. "Utilizing the USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey to Calculate a Household-Level Food Environment Measure," Technical Bulletins 342466, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    4. Okrent, Abigail & Sweitzer, Megan D. & Zhen, Chen & Byrne, Anne T. & Muth, Mary K., 2023. "Getting the Price Right: Analyzing and Comparing Food Prices Over Time and Space," 2023 Annual Meeting, July 23-25, Washington D.C. 335637, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, 2023. "Understanding SNAP: An overview of recent research," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C).
    6. Davis, George C., 2021. "The Implicit Hidden Reductions in the SNAP Benefit Formula: A Unifying Framework for Analysis and Policy Debates," 2021 Annual Meeting, August 1-3, Austin, Texas 313993, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Gundersen, Craig, 2021. "Viewpoint: A proposal to reconstruct the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a universal basic income program for food," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Bronchetti, Erin T. & Christensen, Garret & Hoynes, Hilary W., 2019. "Local food prices, SNAP purchasing power, and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    2. Wang, Julia Shu-Huah & Zhao, Xi & Nam, Jaehyun, 2021. "The effects of welfare participation on parenting stress and parental engagement using an instrumental variables approach: Evidence from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 121(C).
    3. Li, Qingxiao & Cakir, Metin, 2020. "Thrifty Food Plan Panel Price Index and the Real Value of SNAP Benefits," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304201, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Okrent, Abigail & Sweitzer, Megan D. & Zhen, Chen & Byrne, Anne T. & Muth, Mary K., 2023. "Getting the Price Right: Analyzing and Comparing Food Prices Over Time and Space," 2023 Annual Meeting, July 23-25, Washington D.C. 335637, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Jun Zhang & Yanghao Wang & Steven T. Yen, 2021. "Does Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reduce Food Insecurity among Households with Children? Evidence from the Current Population Survey," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(6), pages 1-15, March.
    6. Katherine Meckel, 2020. "Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease? Unintended Effects of Payment Reform in a Quantity-Based Transfer Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(6), pages 1821-1865, June.
    7. Sylvia E Twersky, 2019. "Restrictive state laws aimed at immigrants: Effects on enrollment in the food stamp program by U.S. citizen children in immigrant families," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(5), pages 1-18, May.
    8. James Mabli, "undated". "SNAP Participation, Food Security, and Geographic Access to Food," Mathematica Policy Research Reports da75fa3a960c45b08490c8f14, Mathematica Policy Research.
    9. Justine Hastings & Ryan Kessler & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2021. "The Effect of SNAP on the Composition of Purchased Foods: Evidence and Implications," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 277-315, August.
    10. Swann, Christopher A., 2017. "Household history, SNAP participation, and food insecurity," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 1-9.
    11. Qingxiao Li & Metin Çakır, 2024. "Estimating SNAP purchasing power and its effect on participation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 106(2), pages 779-804, March.
    12. Weerasooriya, Senal A. & Reimer, Jeffrey J., 2016. "Effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on Rural and Urban Areas in Oregon," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 235751, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    13. repec:mpr:mprres:8084 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Helen H. Jensen & Brent Kreider & Oleksandr Zhylyevskyy, 2019. "Investigating Treatment Effects of Participating Jointly in SNAP and WIC when the Treatment Is Validated Only for SNAP," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(1), pages 124-155, July.
    15. Tiehen, Laura & Newman, Constance & Kirlin, John A., 2017. "The Food-Spending Patterns of Households Participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Findings From USDA's FoodAPS," Economic Information Bulletin 262461, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    16. McKernan, Signe-Mary & Ratcliffe, Caroline & Braga, Breno, 2021. "The effect of the US safety net on material hardship over two decades," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 197(C).
    17. Mancino, Lisa & Guthrie, Joanne & Ver Ploeg, Michele & Lin, Biing-Hwan, 2018. "Nutritional Quality of Foods Acquired by Americans: Findings From USDA's National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey," Economic Information Bulletin 276248, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    18. Marcella Alsan & Crystal Yang, 2018. "Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities," NBER Working Papers 24731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Seungyeon Cho, 2022. "The Effect of Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on Food Insecurity of Children in U.S. Immigrant Households," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 501-510, September.
    20. Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, 2023. "Understanding SNAP: An overview of recent research," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C).
    21. Lucie Schmidt & Lara Shore-Sheppard & Tara Watson, 2016. "The Effect of Safety-Net Programs on Food Insecurity," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(3), pages 589-614.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:95:y:2020:i:c:s030691922030141x. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.