There is a large literature on earnings and income volatility in labor economics, household finance, and macroeconomics. One strand of that literature has studied whether individual earnings volatility has risen or fallen in the U.S. over the last several decades. There are strong disagreements in the empirical literature on this important question, with some studies showing upward trends, some downward trends, and some flat trends. Some studies have suggested that the differences are the result of using flawed survey data instead of more accurate administrative data.
We study whether SNAP mediates the effect of food insecurity on future health and healthcare utilization more for the extreme poor (i.e., those with income below 50% of the poverty line) than it mediates the effect for other low-income families (i.e., with incomes between 50% and 200% of the poverty line). We use data for about 23,000 people in the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 linked NHIS-MEPS surveys with the measures of food insecurity coming from the NHIS and the measures of SNAP benefits and various health outcomes from the MEPS.
A long literature in economics concerns itself with differential allocations of resources to different children within the family unit. In a study of approximately 1,500 very disadvantaged families with children in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio from 1999 to 2005, significant differences in levels of food allocation, as measured by an indicator of food “insecurity,” are found across children of different ages and genders.
Receipt of benefits from other traditional transfer programs by SNAP families is common, with 76 percent of those families receiving at least one other major benefit of that type, excluding Medicaid, in 2008. However, over half of these only received one other benefit and only a very small fraction received more than two others. Over the long-term, multiple benefit receipt among SNAP families has been falling, a result of declines in the TANF caseload offsetting rises in the SSI, SSDI, and WIC caseloads.