NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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The Effect of SNAP on the Composition of Purchased Foods: Evidence and Implications

Justine S. Hastings, Ryan E. Kessler, Jesse M. Shapiro

NBER Working Paper No. 25953
Issued in June 2019
NBER Program(s):The Health Economics Program, The Public Economics Program

We use detailed data from a large retail panel to study the effect of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the composition and nutrient content of foods purchased for at-home consumption. We find that the effect of SNAP participation is small relative to the cross-sectional variation in most of the outcomes we consider. Estimates from a model relating the composition of a household’s food purchases to the household’s current level of food spending imply that closing the gap in food spending between high- and low-SES households would not close the gap in summary measures of food healthfulness.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25953

 
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