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When Does it Count? The Timing of Food Stamp Receipt and Educational Performance

31 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2017  

Chad D. Cotti

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh; University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

John Gordanier

University of South Carolina

Orgul D. Ozturk

University of South Carolina

Date Written: June 25, 2017

Abstract

The impact of poor nutrition has been established as an important determinant of learning and achievement among school aged children. It has also been demonstrated that the single monthly treatment of food stamps leaves meaningful nutritional deficiencies in recipient households during the final weeks of the benefits cycle. This paper exploits detailed administrative data on standardized math tests scores and randomized food stamp receipt dates to allow us to measure the impact of these low nutritional periods on student performance. Our main results are that scores are notably lower when the exam falls near the end of the benefit cycle and when food stamps arrive on the four days immediately preceding the exam. While both boys and girls experienced a similar penalty with receipt near the end of the cycle, the effect from receipt just prior to the exam appears to be partially explained by a large negative effect associated with weekend receipt, which coincides with the four days prior to the exam, that is concentrated among African-American boys. Our results provide evidence that households do not sufficiently smooth consumption and that this has measurable effects on student performance. The fact that weekend receipt differs suggests a behavioral response from households beyond food insecurity that also has meaningful effects.

Keywords: SNAP Benefits, Educational Outcomes, Consumption Cycles

JEL Classification: I21, I31, I38

Suggested Citation

Cotti, Chad D. and Gordanier, John and Ozturk, Orgul D., When Does it Count? The Timing of Food Stamp Receipt and Educational Performance (June 25, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2992390

Chad Cotti

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh ( email )

800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI WI 54901
United States

University of Connecticut - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4066
Storrs, CT 06269
United States
9202034660 (Phone)

John Gordanier

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Orgul Ozturk (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina ( email )

1014 Greene street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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