1-in-7 Americans received benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2011, an all-time high. We analyze changes in program enrollment over the past two decades, quantifying the contributions of unemployment and state policy changes. Using instrumental variables to address measurement error, we estimate that a one percent- age point increase in unemployment raises enrollment by 15 percent. Unemployment explains most of the decrease in enrollment in the late 1990s, state policy changes explain more of the increase in enrollment in the early 2000s, and unemployment explains most of the increase in enrollment in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Aug 23, 2018

Liquidity vs. Wealth in Household Debt Obligations: Evidence from Housing Policy in the Great Recession

Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel
Topics:  Fiscal Studies, Financial Markets, Employment & Wages, Economic Mobility & Poverty, Monetary Policy, COVID-19
BFI Working Paper May 22, 2019

Why Has Regional Income Convergence in the U.S. Declined?

Peter Ganong, Daniel Shoag
BFI Working Paper Jan 16, 2018

How Do Changes In Housing Voucher Design Affect Rent and Neighborhood Quality?

Peter Ganong, Robert Collinson
Topics:  Economic Mobility & Poverty, Employment & Wages, Financial Markets