Issuance and Incidence: SNAP Benefit Cycles and Grocery Prices
AbstractMany safety net programs issue benefits as monthly lump-sum payments. We investigate how the timing of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance affects food purchases and the incidence of the transfer. Using scanner data from a large sample of grocery stores and state and time variation in SNAP issuance schedules, we document large, SNAP-induced intramonth cycles in food expenditures. However, we find that retailers do not adjust prices based on these predictable patterns of demand. Our results therefore suggest that reforming issuance schedules may reduce costs from SNAP-induced demand surges but are unlikely to affect the incidence of SNAP benefits.
CitationGoldin, Jacob, Tatiana Homonoff, and Katherine Meckel. 2022. "Issuance and Incidence: SNAP Benefit Cycles and Grocery Prices." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 14 (1): 152-78. DOI: 10.1257/pol.20190777
- D12 Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- H75 State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions
- I18 Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- I38 Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- L81 Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce