The Downs and Ups of the SNAP Caseload: What Matters?

44 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2017

See all articles by Stacy Dickert-Conlin

Stacy Dickert-Conlin

Michigan State University

Katie Fitzpatrick

Seattle University

Laura Tiehen

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS)

Brian Stacy

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS); Michigan State University

Date Written: December 1, 2016

Abstract

Since the 1990s, states have received unprecedented flexibility to determine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility and program administration. We investigate the role of state flexibility in explaining SNAP caseloads and find that state SNAP policies accounted for nearly 40 percent of the predicted caseload decline between 1993 and 2000 – primarily through the eligibility restrictions on noncitizens – and nearly one quarter of the 2000-2011 caseload increase. State economic conditions, measured by the unemployment rate, also play a strong role in caseload changes, accounting for more than half of the predicted caseload decline between 1993 and 2000 and almost two-thirds of the increase between 2007 and 2011. We then conduct a number of policy simulations, including simulations of the size of the SNAP caseload if states had not acquired flexibility over program rules between 2000 and 2011. We estimate that, if all required states to adopt policies that would be expected to restrict caseload growth, the caseload would be between 44 percent lower while if all states were required to adopt policies that would be expected to increase the caseload the caseload would be 18 percent higher.

Keywords: Food Assistance, SNAP Caseload, State Policies, Poverty

JEL Classification: I38, I3, H53, H75

Suggested Citation

Dickert-Conlin, Stacy and Fitzpatrick, Katie and Tiehen, Laura and Stacy, Brian, The Downs and Ups of the SNAP Caseload: What Matters? (December 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3052570 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3052570

Stacy Dickert-Conlin

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Katie Fitzpatrick

Seattle University ( email )

900 Broadway
Seattle, WA 98122
United States

Laura Tiehen

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States
(202) 694-5417 (Phone)

Brian Stacy (Contact Author)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Economic Research Service (ERS) ( email )

355 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-3221
United States

Michigan State University

Agriculture Hall
No Address Available

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