One-in-seven Americans received benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2011, an all-time high. We analyze changes in program enrollment over the past two decades, quantifying the contributions of unemployment and state policy changes. Using instrumental variables to address measurement error, we estimate that a one percentage point increase in unemployment raises enrollment by 15 percent. Unemployment explains most of the decrease in enrollment in the late 1990s, state policy changes explain more of the increase in enrollment in the early 2000s, and unemployment explains most of the increase in enrollment in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
Ganong, Peter, and Jeffrey B. Liebman.
"The Decline, Rebound, and Further Rise in SNAP Enrollment: Disentangling Business Cycle Fluctuations and Policy Changes."
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy,
Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
Business Fluctuations; Cycles
National Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions
Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs