Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (FANRR-7) 25 pp

June 2000

The Decline in Food Stamp Program Participation in the 1990's

The Food Stamp Program saw an unprecedented decline in participation from 27.5 million participants in 1994 to 18.2 million participants in 1999. A strong economy and changes in social welfare programs drove this change. An econometric model with State-level data calculated that 35 percent of the caseload decline from 1994 to 1998 was associated with changing economic conditions and 12 percent with program reform and political variables. Household-level data from the Current Population Survey lead to the conclusion that 28 percent of the total change in participation was associated with a decrease in the number of people with low income (below 130 percent of the poverty line) and 55 percent was due to a decline in the proportion of low-income people who participate.

Keywords: Food Stamp Program, welfare reform, economic conditions, caseload dynamics

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