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Does SNAP Decrease Food Insecurity? Untangling the Self-Selection Effect

  • Nord, Mark
  • Golla, Anne Marie

Self-selection by more food-needy households into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) makes it difficult to observe positive effects of the program in survey data. This study investigates self-selection and ameliorative program effects by examining households’ food security month by month for several months prior to initial receipt of SNAP benefits and for several months after joining the program. Two-year panels are constructed by matching the same households interviewed in the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement in 2 consecutive years using data from 2001 to 2006. Food security is observed to deteriorate in the 6 months prior to beginning to receive SNAP benefits and to improve shortly after. The results clearly demonstrate the self-selection by households into SNAP at a time when they are more severely food insecure. The results are consistent with a moderate ameliorative effect of SNAP—reducing the prevalence of very low food security among recent entrants by about one-third—although they do not conclusively demonstrate that extent of amelioration.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/55955
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Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Economic Research Report with number 55955.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:55955
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  1. Craig Gundersen & Victor Oliveira, 2001. "The Food Stamp Program and Food Insufficiency," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 875-887.
  2. Ribar, David C. & Hamrick, Karen S., 2003. "Dynamics Of Poverty And Food Sufficiency," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33851, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  3. 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.
  4. Parke Wilde & Mark Nord, 2005. "The Effect of Food Stamps on Food Security: A Panel Data Approach ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 27(3), pages 425-432.
  5. Helen H. Jensen, 2002. "Food Insecurity and the Food Stamp Program," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1215-1228.
  6. Bartfeld, Judi & Dunifon, Rachel & Nord, Mark & Carlson, Steven, 2006. "What Factors Account for State-to-State Differences in Food Security?," Economic Information Bulletin 7086, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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