NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

When Do Women Use AFDC & Food Stamps? The Dynamics of Eligibility vs. Participation

Rebecca M. Blank, Patricia Ruggles

NBER Working Paper No. 4429
Issued in August 1993
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper investigates dynamic patterns in the relationship between eligibility and participation in the AFDC and food stamp programs, using monthly longitudinal data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The results indicate that the majority of eligibility spells are relatively short, do not result in program participation, and end with increases in income. Participation is most likely to occur among women with lower current and future earning opportunities, and is also affected by locational and policy parameters. Those who elect to participate in these programs tend to start receiving benefits almost immediately upon becoming eligible. with little evidence of delayed program entry. A substantial number of women exit these programs before their eligibility ends; among at least some of these women it seems likely that there are unreported changes in income occurring. In 1989, if all eligible single-parents families had participated in AFDC and food stamps, benefit payments would have been $13.5 billion higher.

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Published: Journal of Human Resources, Vol.31, No.1, pp.57-89, Winter 1996.

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