Research

2018

Administrative data are considered the “gold standard” when measuring program participation, but little evidence exists on the potential problems with administrative records or their implications for econometric estimates. We explore issues with administrative data using the FoodAPS, a unique dataset that contains two different administrative measures of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation as well as a survey-based measure.

In the early 90’s, the United States reformed its welfare system through state waivers and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. These changes altered family resources and potential investments for childhood human capital, which in turn could affect later adult outcomes. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I examine the long-run impact of growing up under welfare reform on adult education and family structure through age 28.  I find that as children, these individuals have higher reading test scores by an average of 6% of a standard deviation.

Previous literature documents a strong relationship between food insecurity and mental health, and also examines the impact of safety net programs on food insecurity.  However, little is known about the intersection between mental health, safety net participation, and food insecurity. In this research, we use a multi-program safety net calculator (including cash, food, and health insurance programs) and data from the National Health Interview Survey and the Current Population Survey to examine the effects of safety net generosity on food insecurity and mental health for single mother families.  We examine four research questions.  First, does state safety net generosity affect self-reported participation in safety net programs?  Second, does mental health affect participation in safety net programs, conditional on generosity?  Third, does more generous cash and food assistance affect mental health? And finally, how effective is the safety net in reducing food insecurity in the presence of mental health issues? We find that state-level safety net generosity does predict self-reported participation, and that conditional on generosity, those with mental health issues are significantly more likely to participate in safety net programs.  More generous cash and food assistance is protective of maternal mental health, but results are somewhat sensitive to the measure of mental health examined.  Finally, we find no effect of the safety net on 30-day food insecurity.  These results have important implications for the effectiveness of safety net programs for some of the most vulnerable members of society: low-income mothers suffering from mental health challenges and their children. 

This paper examines the effect of Walmart Supercenters, which lower food prices and expand food availability, on household and child food insecurity. Our food insecurity-related outcomes come from the 2001-2012 waves of the December Current Population Study Food Security Supplement. Using narrow geographic identifiers available in the restricted version of these data, we compute the distance between each household’s census tract of residence and the nearest Walmart Supercenter.

In the annual report for calendar year 2016, we find that: 13.6% of seniors are marginally food insecure, 7.7% are food insecure, and 2.9% are very low food secure. This translates into 8.6 million, 4.9 million, and 1.8 million seniors, respectively. From 2015 to 2016, there were statistically significant declines in the percentage of marginally food-insecure seniors. However, there were no statistically significant changes in food insecurity or very low food security.

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.

This aim of this paper is to assess the economic status of rural people five decades after publication of President Johnson's National Commission on Rural Poverty report The People Left Behind. Using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the CPS, along with county data from the Regional Economic Information System, I focus on how changes in employment, wages, and the social safety net have influenced the evolution of poverty and inequality in rural and urban places.

Young adults face enormous economic, social and psychological challenges when they transition into adulthood. This transition can be especially overwhelming and daunting for young adults with disabilities. Among the challenges young adults with disabilities are faced with are greater risk of low food security and barriers to healthcare.

2017

Refundable tax credits and food assistance are the largest transfer programs available to able-bodied working poor and near-poor families in the United States, and simultaneous participation in these programs has more than doubled since the early 2000s.

We study household income inequality in both Great Britain and the United States and the interplay between labour market earnings and the tax system. While both Britain and the US have witnessed secular increases in 90/10 male earnings inequality over the last three decades, this measure of inequality in net family income has declined in Britain while it has risen in the US. We study the interplay between labour market earnings in the family, assortative mating, the tax and benefit system and household income inequality.