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SNAP and Paycheck Cycles

Author

Listed:
  • Timothy K.M. Beatty
  • Marianne P. Bitler
  • Xinzhe Huang Cheng
  • Cynthia van der Werf

Abstract

It is well documented that individuals do not spend SNAP benefits smoothly over the month after receipt. Rather, recipients spend a disproportionate share of benefits at the beginning of the benefit month. This has costs for recipients and stores. There is also evidence that other income streams, such as Social Security and paychecks, are not spent smoothly. The presence of these other income streams may bias estimates of the effects of this SNAP cycle on consumption for working SNAP beneficiaries and those who receive other government benefits. We use data from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey to explore how the SNAP cycle is affected by accounting for these other income streams. We find suggestive evidence that the cycle is more pronounced for workers who are paid on a weekly or monthly basis, but little evidence that cycles in other income streams mitigate or exacerbate the SNAP cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy K.M. Beatty & Marianne P. Bitler & Xinzhe Huang Cheng & Cynthia van der Werf, 2019. "SNAP and Paycheck Cycles," NBER Working Papers 25635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25635
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:mpr:mprres:6936 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Beatty, Timothy K.M., 2016. "Food Price Variation over the SNAP Benefit Cycle," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Boston, Massachusetts 236012, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    3. Damon, Amy L. & King, Robert P. & Leibtag, Ephraim, 2013. "First of the month effect: Does it apply across food retail channels?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 18-27.
    4. Bruce D. Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok & James X. Sullivan, 2015. "Household Surveys in Crisis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 199-226, Fall.
    5. Justine Hastings & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2018. "How Are SNAP Benefits Spent? Evidence from a Retail Panel," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(12), pages 3493-3540, December.
    6. Melvin Stephens Jr., 2003. ""3rd of tha Month": Do Social Security Recipients Smooth Consumption Between Checks?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 406-422, March.
    7. Timothy K.M. Beatty & Charlotte J. Tuttle, 2015. "Expenditure Response to Increases in In-Kind Transfers: Evidence from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 97(2), pages 390-404.
    8. Karen S Hamrick & Margaret Andrews, 2016. "SNAP Participants’ Eating Patterns over the Benefit Month: A Time Use Perspective," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(7), pages 1-18, July.
    9. Just, David R., 2006. "Behavioral Economics, Food Assistance, and Obesity," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 35(2), pages 1-12, October.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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 142-162, May.
    13. Stephens Melvin, 2006. "Paycheque Receipt and the Timing of Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 680-701, July.
    14. repec:mpr:mprres:6935 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Inés Berniell, 2018. "Pay Cycles: Individual and Aggregate Effects of Paycheck Frequency," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0221, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jillian B. Carr & Analisa Packham, 2021. "SNAP Schedules and Domestic Violence," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 40(2), pages 412-452, March.
    2. Pourya Valizadeh & Travis A. Smith & Michele Ver Ploeg, 2021. "Do SNAP Households Pay Different Prices throughout the Benefit Month?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(3), pages 1051-1075, September.
    3. Lee, Ji Yong & Nayga Jr, Rodolfo M. & Jo, Young & Restrepo, Brandon J., 2022. "Time use and eating patterns of SNAP participants over the benefit month," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).
    4. Marianne P. Bitler & Christian Gregory, 2019. "Food Access, Program Participation, and Health: Research Using FoodAPS," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(1), pages 9-17, July.
    5. Cotti, Chad D. & Gordanier, John M. & Ozturk, Orgul D., 2021. "Does distributing SNAP benefits later in the month smooth expenditures?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    6. Zachary Parolin & Megan Curran & Jordan Matsudaira & Jane Waldfogel & Christopher Wimer, 2022. "Estimating Monthly Poverty Rates in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 41(4), pages 1177-1203, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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