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Using a Canadian-American Natural Experiment to Study Relative Efficiencies of Social Welfare Payment Systems

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  • Tanguay, Georges
  • Hunt, Gary
  • Marceau, Nicolas

Abstract

We study whether social welfare recipients may end up paying more for their grocery if social welfare payments are more concentrated over time. We first present a theoretical model showing that lower incomes in general and a lower lower bound of the income distribution lead to less mobility for poorer consumers. This causes local stores to have more market power and increase their prices when the incomes of poorer people go down and/or when the number of poorer people goes up. Secondly, we verify these theoretical findings by using a natural experiment to study links between food prices and the more restrictive timing of social welfare payments in Montreal, Canada compared to the timing in Bangor, Maine. We find some statistically significant evidence of : i) a negative effect on prices in the week of social welfare check issue ; ii) increasing prices over a month. We also find that some socio-economic factors such as a higher percentage of single-parent families in one area may increase prices charged by grocery stores in that area.

Suggested Citation

  • Tanguay, Georges & Hunt, Gary & Marceau, Nicolas, 2002. "Using a Canadian-American Natural Experiment to Study Relative Efficiencies of Social Welfare Payment Systems," Cahiers de recherche 0205, CIRPEE.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0205
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. MacDonald, James M. & Nelson, Paul Jr., 1991. "Do the poor still pay more? Food price variations in large metropolitan areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 344-359, November.
    2. Glaeser, E. L., 1998. "Should transfer payments be indexed to local price levels?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-20, January.
    3. Glazer, Amihai, 1981. "Advertising, Information, and Prices-A Case Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(4), pages 661-671, October.
    4. Alcaly, Roger E & Klevorick, Alvin K, 1971. "Food Prices in Relation to Income Levels in New York City," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(4), pages 380-397, October.
    5. Parke E. Wilde & Christine K. Ranney, 2000. "The Monthly Food Stamp Cycle: Shooping Frequency and Food Intake Decisions in an Endogenous Switching Regression Framework," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(1), pages 200-213.
    6. Kunreuther, Howard, 1973. "Why the Poor May Pay More for Food: Theoretical and Empirical Evidence," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 368-383, July.
    7. Bruce L. Benson & Merle D. Faminow, 1985. "An Alternative View of Pricing in Retail Food Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 67(2), pages 296-306.
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    Cited by:

    1. Georges Tanguay & Gary Hunt & Nicolas Marceau, 2005. "Food Prices and the Timing of Welfare Payments: A Canadian Study," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 31(2), pages 145-160, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Welfare Payments; Grocery Prices; Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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