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SNAP Expansions and Participation in Government Safety Net Programs


  • Jeehoon Han


Gauging the efficacy of safety net programs requires a good understanding of how the interactions between them affect the total benefits and costs of any given policy change. This paper investigates the interactions between health and nutritional assistance programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, and school lunch programs. Since 1999, states have been given much more flexibility to operate SNAP, and many states have expanded eligibility to include households with income and resources above the existing federal limits for SNAP. Exploiting this variation in SNAP eligibility across states and over time, I find strong evidence of program interactions: when a state moves from the federal rule to the most extensive SNAP eligibility rule, enrollment in free school lunch increases by 4 percentage points. I estimate that the federal government spends an additional 37 cents on the school lunch program for each dollar spent on SNAP due to the expansion. However, expanded eligibility for SNAP leads to a significant decrease in private insurance coverage for both adults and children, which is not fully explained by an increase in Medicaid enrollment. Exploring potential channels through which SNAP expansions affect participation in other safety net programs, I find evidence that automatic eligibility, and a reduction in employment, play a role in program interactions.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeehoon Han, 2016. "SNAP Expansions and Participation in Government Safety Net Programs," 2016 Papers pha1139, Job Market Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:jmp:jm2016:pha1139

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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