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The Path to SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Dynamics Among Young Adults


  • Scherpf, Erik


This study investigates young adults’ first experience with the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), examining the determinants of first program entry and exit. It makes use of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort (NLSY97), which follows respondents from adolescence into adulthood. This study estimates discrete-time hazard models of program entry and exit with and without unobserved heterogeneity. Unobserved heterogeneity is modeled using both a parametric approach, in which a gamma distribution is assumed, and a non-parametric approach with two mass points. The results are broadly consistent across models, indicating that, for the cohort in this study, accounting for unobserved heterogeneity does not substantially alter the results from a basic discrete-time hazard model. The results show that expanded categorical eligibility increased the hazard of SNAP entry in the six years following high school, while the absence of vehicle exclusions decreased the entry hazard. For program exit, however, state SNAP policies had no statistically significant effect. The recent birth of a child, prior participation in WIC and low educational attainment were each strongly associated with an increased “risk” of SNAP entry, and decreased “risk” of exit. Somewhat, surprisingly, higher unemployment rates in the local labor market were not significantly associated with higher entry risk, but were strongly associated with a lower exit risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Scherpf, Erik, 2013. "The Path to SNAP: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Dynamics Among Young Adults," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150349, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150349

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
    2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    3. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2009. "The Under-Reporting of Transfers in Household Surveys: Its Nature and Consequences," Working Papers 0903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    4. repec:mpr:mprres:5674 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bruce Meyer & Robert Goerge, 2011. "Errors in Survey Reporting and Imputation and Their Effects on Estimates of Food Stamp Program Participation," Working Papers 11-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Event History Data and Survey Recall: An Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Recall Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 439-466.
    7. Lloyd Grieger & Sheldon Danziger, 2011. "Who Receives Food Stamps During Adulthood? Analyzing Repeatable Events With Incomplete Event Histories," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1601-1614, November.
    8. repec:mpr:mprres:4670 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Nicoletti, Cheti & Rondinelli, Concetta, 2006. "The (mis)specification of discrete time duration models with unobserved heterogenity: a Monte Carlo study," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-53, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    10. repec:mpr:mprres:1855 is not listed on IDEAS
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    12. repec:mpr:mprres:5676 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. James Mabli & James C. Ohls, 2012. "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Dynamics and Employment Transitions: The Role of Employment Instability," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 187-213.
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