Welfare Transfers and Intra-Household Trickle Down: A Model with Evidence from the US Food Stamp Program
We examine the case for maintaining welfare and income redistribution programs even when their adverse general equilibrium effects reduce total earnings of poor households. Using a Cournot model of intra-household decision-making, we show that even if welfare cutbacks generate large increases in household income, these may still reduce the well-being of children and elderly dependants. Our model also explains the higher marginal propensity to consume food out of food stamps in the US, compared to that out of market income, noted in earlier empirical studies. We find evidence consistent with our argument in data from a US Food Stamp experiment.
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