Electronic Publications from the Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (EFAN-02008) 137 pp

March 2002

Explaining Recent Trends in Food Stamp Program Caseloads: Final Report

This report provides the results of a study on the effects of changes in the economy and recent policy changes on trends in food stamp caseloads during 1987-99 and seeks to account for the sharp decline in caseloads after 1994. The study analyzed food stamp receipt among different types of households, such as single- and multiple-adult households with children and adults and elderly persons living separately. The study found that the economy and recent policy changes affected different types of households in different ways. The economy had an especially strong effect on caseloads from multiple-adult households with children and on adults living separately. The economy explains at least 20 percent of the food stamp caseload decline between 1994 and 1999. Changes in several measures of specific components of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) account for another 21 percent. Restricted eligibility for noncitizens and adults without dependents could account for perhaps 10 percent. While most of the findings appear robust, some findings should be viewed with caution. The estimated effects of TANF are sensitive to the inclusion of additional controls for other factors that may also influence caseloads. Furthermore, some estimated effects of TANF policies appear to persist among households that do not include children, even though this program principally serves households with children.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, FSP, Welfare Reform, program participation, caseload dynamics, food assistance and nutrition programs, food assistance and nutrition research program, FANRP

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