Estimating the Associations between SNAP and Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Food Purchases with Imperfect Administrative Measures of Participation

41 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018

See all articles by Charles Courtemanche

Charles Courtemanche

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies

Augustine Denteh

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2018

Abstract

Administrative data are considered the “gold standard” when measuring program participation, but little evidence exists on the potential problems with administrative records or their implications for econometric estimates. We explore issues with administrative data using the FoodAPS, a unique dataset that contains two different administrative measures of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation as well as a survey-based measure. We first document substantial ambiguity in the two administrative participation variables and show that they disagree with each other almost as often as they disagree with self-reported participation. Estimated participation and misreporting rates can be meaningfully sensitive to choices made to resolve this ambiguity and disagreement. We then document similar sensitivity in regression estimates of the associations between SNAP and food insecurity, obesity, and the Healthy Eating Index. These results serve as a cautionary tale about uncritically relying on linked administrative records when conducting program evaluation research.

Keywords: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food stamps, SNAP, food insecurity, obesity, body mass index, food purchases, food expenditures, healthy eating index, misreporting, measurement error

JEL Classification: C81, H51, I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Courtemanche, Charles and Denteh, Augustine and Tchernis, Rusty, Estimating the Associations between SNAP and Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Food Purchases with Imperfect Administrative Measures of Participation (March 2018). Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Research Paper Series No. 18-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3140806 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3140806

Charles Courtemanche (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States
404-413-0082 (Phone)

Augustine Denteh

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Rusty Tchernis

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www2.gsu.edu/~ecort

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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