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How to Make Promises Without Having to Fulfill Them: An Application to the Food Stamp Program (SNAP) and Rebate Schemes


  • Douadia Bougherara
  • Gilles Grolleau
  • Naoufel Mzoughi


In line with Veblen's contributions on the "dark side" of commercial and political relationships, we show how promises can be used to manipulate the "common man." By imposing excessive access costs on potential promisees (e.g., citizens or consumers), a promiser (e.g., a politician or a firm) can benefit from making a promise without having to wholly fulfill it. These strategically manipulated access costs can be legitimized by the need to prevent abuse and fraud that exempts the promiser from being accused of cheating. Here, two case studies on promises offered to eligible households - the Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and rebates - are developed. Some policy implications are drawn and extensions are suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • Douadia Bougherara & Gilles Grolleau & Naoufel Mzoughi, 2010. "How to Make Promises Without Having to Fulfill Them: An Application to the Food Stamp Program (SNAP) and Rebate Schemes," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 1085-1094.
  • Handle: RePEc:mes:jeciss:v:44:y:2010:i:4:p:1085-1094 DOI: 10.2753/JEI0021-3624440412

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