The First of the Month Effect: Consumer Behavior and Store Responses
Previous research has used survey and diary data to carefully document that Food Stamp recipients decrease their expenditures and consumption of food throughout the benefit month, the beginning of which is defined by the date on which benefits are distributed. The reliance on survey and diary data has meant that researchers could not test two rational hypotheses for why food consumption cycles. Using detailed grocery store scanner data we ask 1) whether cycling is due to a desire for variation in foods consumed that leads to substitution across product quality within the month and 2) whether cycling is driven by countercyclical pricing by grocery retailers. We find support for neither of these hypotheses. We find that the decrease in food expenditures is largely driven by reductions in food quantity, not quality, and that prices for foods purchased by benefit households vary pro-cyclically with demand implying that benefit households could save money by delaying their food purchases until later in the month. The price effects are small relative to demand changes and relative to impacts found for other subsidy programs such as EITC, suggesting that most of the benefits accrue to the intended recipients particularly in product categories and stores where benefit recipients represent a small fraction of overall demand. We conclude by concurring with previous literature that food cycling behavior is most likely due to short-run impatience.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Justine Hastings & Ebonya Washington, 2010. "The First of the Month Effect: Consumer Behavior and Store Responses," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 142-62, May.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Joseph G. Altonji & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003.
"The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children,"
NBER Working Papers
9811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Altonji Joseph G & Villanueva Ernesto, 2007. "The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-52, February.
- Joseph G. Altonji & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003. "The Marginal Propensity to Spend on Adult Children," Working Papers 90, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Joseph Altonji & Ernesto Villanueva, 2003. "The marginal propensity to spend on adult children," Economics Working Papers 667, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
- Peter E. Rossi & Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap, 2002.
"Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data,"
Yale School of Management Working Papers
ysm291, Yale School of Management.
- Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2003. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 15-37, March.
- Judith A. Chevalier & Anil K. Kashyap & Peter E. Rossi, 2000. "Why Don't Prices Rise During Periods of Peak Demand? Evidence from Scanner Data," NBER Working Papers 7981, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- MacDonald, James M, 2000. "Demand, Information, and Competition: Why Do Food Prices Fall at Seasonal Demand Peaks?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 27-45, March.
- Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005.
"Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
- Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle," Microeconomics 0304005, EconWPA, revised 21 Apr 2003.
- David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000.
"A Debt Puzzle,"
NBER Working Papers
7879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dobkin, Carlos & Puller, Steven L., 2007. "The effects of government transfers on monthly cycles in drug abuse, hospitalization and mortality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2137-2157, December.
- Greg M. Allenby & Peter E. Rossi, 1991. "Quality Perceptions and Asymmetric Switching Between Brands," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(3), pages 185-204.
- Laibson, David I., 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- 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.
- Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Unintended Consequences of Encouraging Work: Tax Incidence and the EITC," Working Papers 1049, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
- Gicheva, Dora & Hastings, Justine & Villas-Boas, Sofia B, 2008.
"Revisiting the Income Effect: Gasoline Prices and Grocery Purchases,"
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series
qt7087m1p6, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Dora Gicheva & Justine Hastings & Sofia Villas-Boas, 2007. "Revisiting the Income Effect: Gasoline Prices and Grocery Purchases," NBER Working Papers 13614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Warner, Elizabeth J & Barsky, Robert B, 1995. "The Timing and Magnitude of Retail Store Markdowns: Evidence from Weekends and Holidays," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 321-52, May.
This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14578. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.