Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: 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

Randall Reback, Barnard College, David Frisvold, University of Iowa and Ezra Golberstein, University of Minnesota
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.