When Do Women Use Afdc & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation

61 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2000 Last revised: 9 Aug 2021

See all articles by Rebecca M. Blank

Rebecca M. Blank

U.S. Department of Commerce

Patricia Ruggles

The Urban Institute

Date Written: August 1993


This paper investigates dynamic patterns in the relationship between eligibility and participation in the AFDC and food stamp programs, using monthly longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The results indicate that the majority of eligibility spells are relatively short, do not result in program participation, and end with increases in income. Participation is most likely to occur among women with lower current and future earning opportunities, and is also affected by locational and policy parameters. Those who elect to participate in these programs tend to start receiving benefits almost immediately upon becoming eligible. with little evidence of delayed program entry. A substantial number of women exit these programs before their eligibility ends; among at least some of these women it seems likely that there are unreported changes in income occurring. In 1989, if all eligible single-parents families had participated in AFDC and food stamps, benefit payments would have been $13.5 billion higher.

Suggested Citation

Blank, Rebecca M. and Ruggles, Patricia, When Do Women Use Afdc & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation (August 1993). NBER Working Paper No. w4429, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=227308

Rebecca M. Blank (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Commerce ( email )

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Patricia Ruggles

The Urban Institute

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Washington, DC 20037
United States

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