SNAP and Paycheck Cycles

Timothy K.M. Beatty, Marianne P. Bitler, Xinzhe Huang Cheng, Cynthia van der Werf

NBER Working Paper No. 25635
Issued in March 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

It is well documented that individuals do not spend SNAP benefits smoothly over the month after receipt. Rather, recipients spend a disproportionate share of benefits at the beginning of the benefit month. This has costs for recipients and stores. There is also evidence that other income streams, such as Social Security and paychecks, are not spent smoothly. The presence of these other income streams may bias estimates of the effects of this SNAP cycle on consumption for working SNAP beneficiaries and those who receive other government benefits. We use data from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey to explore how the SNAP cycle is affected by accounting for these other income streams. We find suggestive evidence that the cycle is more pronounced for workers who are paid on a weekly or monthly basis, but little evidence that cycles in other income streams mitigate or exacerbate the SNAP cycle.

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Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25635

Published: Timothy K. M. Beatty & Marianne P. Bitler & Xinzhe Huang Cheng & Cynthia van der Werf, 2019. "SNAP and Paycheck Cycles," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(1), pages 18-48, July. citation courtesy of

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