Panel Paper: Child Participation in Supplemental Security Income: Cross- and within-State Determinants of Caseload Growth

Friday, November 3, 2017
Burnham (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lucie Schmidt, Williams College and Purvi Sevak, Mathematica Policy Research

Researchers have struggled to explain the substantial growth over recent years in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) receipt among children under the age of 18. Although existing studies have examined caseloads at the state level, we explore the possibility that local conditions may play a more important role in driving caseload growth, and that different factors might matter in different parts of the country. In this paper, we examine the importance of a number of factors in explaining county-level child SSI caseloads over time. We find that, nationally, these factors explain between 30 and 40 percent of the 2003–2008 growth in SSI caseloads and about 25 percent of the trend from 2008–2011. We also find that the importance of these factors in explaining growth varies substantially regionally and across states, which suggests that national models may lead researchers to overlook important determinants of caseload growth by averaging variation across regions and states. The finding also suggests that state-specific case studies of caseload growth with consideration of local factors may be fruitful in providing additional understanding of the child SSI caseload.