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The Impact of Food Stamps on Food Expenditures: Rejection of the Traditional Model


  • Ben Senauer
  • Nathan Young


For food stamp recipients whose normal food purchases exceed their coupon allotment, the traditional economic model predicts that the impact of food stamps on food spending will be the same as for an equal cash transfer. The Tobit analysis in this study indicates that, for these recipients, food stamps have a substantially greater impact on at-home food expenditures than an equal amount of cash income. These results reject the traditional model. Several possible explanations of this behavior are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben Senauer & Nathan Young, 1986. "The Impact of Food Stamps on Food Expenditures: Rejection of the Traditional Model," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 68(1), pages 37-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ajagec:v:68:y:1986:i:1:p:37-43.

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    Cited by:

    1. Gentilini,Ugo, 2016. "The revival of the"cash versus food"debate : new evidence for an old quandary ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7584, The World Bank.
    2. Levedahl, J. William, 1990. "The Effect Of Functional Form On The Estimated Marginal Propensities To Spend Out Of Food Stamps And Money Income And The Implications For A Cash-Only Food Stamp Program," 1990 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Vancouver, Canada 270908, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    3. Biing‐Hwan Lin & Steven T. Yen & Diansheng Dong & David M. Smallwood, 2010. "Economic Incentives For Dietary Improvement Among Food Stamp Recipients," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 524-536, October.
    4. Jayson L. Lusk & Rock Andre, 2017. "Aid relief in Haiti after the earthquake: Haitians’ preferences for food and other basic commodities," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 35, pages 303-321, October.
    5. Senauer, Benjamin, 1990. "The Forgotten Poor And Their Food Problems," Staff Papers 13789, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    6. Neeraj Kaushal & Qin Gao, 2011. "Food Stamp Program and Consumption Choices," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 223-247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Gonzalez-Cossio, Teresa, 2008. "The Impacts of Cash and In-Kind Transfers on Consumption and Labor Supply: Experimental Evidence from Rural Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4778, The World Bank.
    8. Ugo Gentilini, 2016. "The Other Side of the Coin," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 24593.
    9. World Bank Group, 2016. "Cash Transfers in Humanitarian Contexts," World Bank Other Operational Studies 24699, The World Bank.
    10. Carpio, Carlos E. & Boonsaeng, Tullaya & Chen, Zhen & Okrent, Abigail, 2014. "The Effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on Food and Nonfood Spending Among Low-Income Households," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170650, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    11. Kira M. Villa & Christopher B. Barrett & David R. Just, 2011. "Differential Nutritional Responses across Various Income Sources Among East African Pastoralists: Intrahousehold Effects, Missing Markets and Mental Accounting," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(2), pages 341-375, March.
    12. Lusk, Jayson L. & Weaver, Amanda, 2017. "An experiment on cash and in-kind transfers with application to food assistance programs," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 186-192.
    13. Mythili, G., 1991. "A Theoretical Exposition of Consumer's Reponse to Alternative Food Policies," CUDARE Working Papers 198589, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    14. Tuttle, Charlotte, 2016. "The Stimulus Act of 2009 and Its Effect on Food-At-Home Spending by SNAP Participants," Economic Research Report 262193, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    15. Rose, Donald & Gunderson, Craig & Oliveira, Victor, 1998. "Socio-Economic Determinants of Food Insecurity in the United States: Evidence from the SIPP and CSFII Datasets," Technical Bulletins 184377, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    16. Janet Currie, 2003. "U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 199-290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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