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Employed in a SNAP? The Impact of Work Requirements on Program Participation and Labor Supply

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  • Colin Gray
  • Adam Leive
  • Elena Prager
  • Kelsey B. Pukelis
  • Mary Zaki

Abstract

Work requirements are common in U.S. safety net programs. Evidence remains limited, however, on the extent to which work requirements increase economic self-sufficiency or screen out vulnerable individuals. Using linked administrative data on food stamps (SNAP) and earnings with a regression discontinuity design, we find robust evidence that work requirements increase program exits by 23 percentage points (64 percent) among incumbent participants after 18 months. There is a 53 percent overall reduction in program participation among adults who are subject to work requirements. Homeless adults are disproportionately screened out. We find no effects on employment, and suggestive evidence of increased earnings in some specifications. Our findings indicate that, per dollar of public expenditure, eliminating work requirements would likely transfer more resources to low-income adults than other programs targeting the same population.

Suggested Citation

  • Colin Gray & Adam Leive & Elena Prager & Kelsey B. Pukelis & Mary Zaki, 2021. "Employed in a SNAP? The Impact of Work Requirements on Program Participation and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 28877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28877
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    Cited by:

    1. Suttles, Shellye A. & Babb, Angela & Knudsen, Daniel, 2022. "Submitted and Denied: Understanding Variation in Case Status Across Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Applications," 2022 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Anaheim, California 322195, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    2. Luke Petach, 2022. "A Tullock Index for assessing the effectiveness of redistribution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 191(1), pages 137-159, April.
    3. Das, Debasmita, 2019. "SNAP Work Requirement and Food Insecurity," MPRA Paper 109964, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Oct 2021.
    4. Han, Jeehoon, 2022. "The impact of SNAP work requirements on labor supply," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    5. Stith Sarah S., 2022. "Effects of work requirements for food assistance eligibility on disability claiming," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, January.
    6. Lonnie R. Snowden, 2023. "US states' racial bias correlates with less SNAP participation by “undeserving poor” adults and lower unemployment benefit maximums," Poverty & Public Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 15(2), pages 133-149, June.
    7. Andrew F. Haughwout & Benjamin Hyman & Or Shachar, 2021. "The Option Value of Municipal Liquidity: Evidence from Federal Lending Cutoffs during COVID-19," Staff Reports 988, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • 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
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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