NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Food Stamps and America's Poorest

Dean Jolliffe, Juan Margitic, Martin Ravallion

NBER Working Paper No. 26025
Issued in June 2019
NBER Program(s):The Development Economics Program, The Public Economics Program

The paper provides the first assessment of: (i) America’s progress in lifting the lower bound—the floor—of the distribution of real income; (ii) whether the country’s largest antipoverty program, SNAP (“food stamps”), helped do so. An operational method of estimating the floor is implemented on micro survey data spanning 30 years, with various robustness and significance tests. SNAP partially compensated the poorest, and helped stabilize the floor. Nonetheless, the floor has been sinking over the last 30 years. The efficiency of SNAP in lifting the floor has declined over time. Full coverage of the poorest would lift the floor appreciable.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26025

 
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