Snapping Back: Food Stamp Bans and Criminal Recidivism

97 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2016 Last revised: 31 Dec 2018

See all articles by Cody Tuttle

Cody Tuttle

University of Maryland - College Park

Date Written: June 12, 2018


I estimate the effect of access to Food Stamps on criminal recidivism. In 1996, a federal welfare reform imposed a lifetime ban from Food Stamps on convicted drug felons. Florida modified this ban, restricting it to drug traffickers who commit their offense on or after August 23, 1996. I exploit this sharp cutoff in a regression discontinuity design and find that the ban increases recidivism among drug traffickers. The increase is driven by financially motivated crimes, suggesting that the cut in benefits causes ex-convicts to return to crime to make up for the lost transfer income.

Keywords: Recidivism, Welfare Ban, SNAP, Food Stamps, Labor Supply

JEL Classification: K42, I38

Suggested Citation

Tuttle, Cody, Snapping Back: Food Stamp Bans and Criminal Recidivism (June 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Cody Tuttle (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

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