How Do Short-Term Fluctuations in Home Resources Affect Children? Evidence from the Timing of TANF and SNAP Payments
Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 2:05 PM
Brickell South (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Previous research studies have established that the timing of government assistance payments influences the timing of household consumption (Hastings & Washington, 2010; Stephens Jr., 2003), household caloric intake (Todd, 2014; Shapiro, 2005; Wilde & Ramney, 2000), hospitalizations (Dobkin & Puller, 2007), and even deaths (Evans & Moore, 2011; Dobkin & Puller, 2007). A separate literature has identified how broad changes in home resource levels affect child development (e.g., Dahl & Lochner, 2012; Duncan, Morris, & Rodrigues, 2011). In this paper, we conduct empirical research to test whether there are important connections between these two topic areas. We test whether the inter-temporal variation in home resources for low-income households affects children’s cognitive functioning and emotions. We link the within-month timing of states’ TANF and SNAP payments to measures of children’s academic abilities and emotional wellbeing found in a nationally-representative sample, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey. Critical to our identification strategy, there is (seemingly exogenous) variation in the within-month timing of children’s assessments in that survey, both for within-child variation over time and for within-state-by-year variation. Our findings are important for understanding whether children in low-income households are especially vulnerable when their home resources dip below their typical levels.