Do Welfare Benefits Pay Electoral Dividends? Evidence from the Food Stamp Program Rollout

39 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2016 Last revised: 25 May 2019

See all articles by Vladimir Kogan

Vladimir Kogan

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 23, 2019

Abstract

Growing evidence suggests that pocketbook considerations influence voting behavior in the U.S. and other developed countries and that incumbents can use targeted government benefits to win voter support. It remains unclear whether the general relationship between government spending and incumbent support also holds for means-tested welfare programs, however. I contribute to this empirical literature by taking advantage of the decade-long rollout of the American Food Stamp Program. The staggered timing of local program implementation allows me to credibly estimate the causal effect of this new benefit on election outcomes. Overall, I find that Democrats -- at the center of the program's enacting coalition -- gained votes when the program was implemented locally, apparently through mobilization of new supporters rather than the conversion of political opponents.

Keywords: welfare state, policy feedback, food stamps, distributive politics, retrospective voting, pocketbook voting

JEL Classification: H00, H5, H53, H7, H75, I3, I38

Suggested Citation

Kogan, Vladimir, Do Welfare Benefits Pay Electoral Dividends? Evidence from the Food Stamp Program Rollout (May 23, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2874410 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2874410

Vladimir Kogan (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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