Research

2016

Policymakers are pursing initiatives to increase food access for low-income households. However, due in part to previous data deficiencies, there is still little evidence supporting the assumption that improved food store access will alter dietary habits, especially for the poorest of U.S. households. This article uses the new National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) to estimate consumer food outlet choices as a function of outlet type and household attributes in a multinomial mixed logit.

In our update for the calendar year 2014, we find that 15.8% of seniors are marginally food insecure, 8.8% are food insecure, and 3.4% are very low food secure. This translates into 10.2 million, 5.7 million, and 2.2 million seniors, respectively. From 2001 to 2014, the fraction of seniors experiencing the marginal food insecurity, food insecurity, and very low food security increased by 47%, 68%, and 138%, respectively. The number of seniors in each group rose 119%, 148%, and 252% which also reflects the growing population of seniors.

2015

Earnings nonresponse in household surveys is widespread, yet there is limited evidence on whether and how nonresponse bias affects measured earnings. This paper examines the patterns and consequences of nonresponse using internal Current Population Survey individual records linked to administrative Social Security Administrative data on earnings for calendar years 2005-2010. Our findings confirm the conjecture by Lillard, Smith, and Welch (1986) that nonresponse across the earnings distribution is U-shaped. Left-tail “strugglers” and right-tail “stars” are least likely to report earnings.

Based on the barometer of food insecurity, this report demonstrates that seniors continue to face increasing challenges despite the end of the Great Recession. Specifically, in 2013 we find that 15.5% of seniors marginally food insecurer, 8.7% are food insecure, and 3.3% are very low food secure. This translates into 9.6 million, 5.4 million, and 2.0 million seniors, respectively. Since the onset of the recession in 2007 until 2013, the number of seniors experiencingfood insecurity has increased by 68%.

This paper discusses the history of the TANF program, participation, and spending. Also discussed are the goals of TANF legislation, changes in rules regarding utilization of cash welfare, especially the introduction of work requirements under the 1996 legislation. The author also offers a theorhetical discussion and a review of the empirical literature regarding TANF. The paper was prepared for a National Business and Economic Research conference on Dec. 5-6, 2014.

2014

This paper provides the first nationally representative estimates of how unemployment insurance (UI) generosity in the United States affects the search intensity of unemployed individuals using individual level variation in UI generosity.

In this paper, we describe the relationship between SNAP and food consumption. We first present the neoclassical framework for analyzing in-kind transfers, which unambiguously predicts that SNAP will increase food consumption, and follow this with an explanation of the SNAP benefit formula. We then present new evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey on food spending patterns among households overall, SNAP households, and other subgroups of interest. We find that a substantial fraction of SNAP households spend an amount that is above the program’s needs standard.

Despite growing attention to the unintended intergenerational consequences of incarceration, little is known about whether and how paternal incarceration is related to children’s food insecurity, an especially acute and severe form of deprivation. In this article, I use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a cohort of urban children born to mostly unmarried mothers, to examine the relationship between paternal incarceration and food insecurity among young children.

Adverse childhood experiences, including abuse, neglect, and household instability affect lifelong health and economic potential. While relationships between household food insecurity and caregiver's childhood exposure to abuse and neglect are underexplored, preliminary evidence indicates that caregivers reporting very low food security report traumatic events in their childhoods that lead to poor physical and mental health.

The aim of this paper is to assess the adequacy of the data infrastructure in the United States to meet future research and policy evaluation needs as it pertains to income, program participation, poverty, and financial vulnerability. I first discuss some major research themes that are likely to dominate policy and scientific discussions in the coming decade.