Nowcasting and Forecasting the Monthly Food Stamps Data in the US Using Online Search Data
Plos One, Forthcoming
50 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2014 Last revised: 21 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 4, 2014
We propose the use of Google online search data for nowcasting and forecasting the number of food stamps recipients. We perform a large out-of-sample forecasting exercise with almost 3000 competing models with forecast horizons up to 2 years ahead, and we show that models including Google search data statistically outperform the competing models at all considered horizons. These results hold also with several robustness checks, considering alternative keywords, a falsification test, different out-of-samples, directional accuracy and forecasts at the state-level.
Keywords: Food Stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Google, Forecasting, Global Financial Crisis, Great Recession, Google Trends
JEL Classification: C22, C53, E27, H53, I32, Q18, R23
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