Panel Paper: Do SNAP Work Requirements Work?

Friday, November 9, 2018
8206 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Timothy F. Harris, Illinois State University

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act waived work requirements nationally in 2010 and broadened the eligibility for receiving waivers in subsequent years for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as Food Stamps). Despite the availability of waivers, many states voluntarily reimposed work requirements from 2011 to 2015. Furthermore, in 2016, 22 states either became ineligible or chose not to renew state-wide waivers leading to a significant drop in SNAP participation among ABAWD. Did the work requirements increase employment as intended or did the policy merely remove food assistance for ABAWD who—despite an improving economy—still could not find employment? Using data from the American Consumer Survey from 2010 to 2016 in conjunction with time and geographical policy variation, I analyze the causal influence of work requirements on employment for ABAWD. Furthermore, I exploit variation created by the definition of ABAWD using a difference-in-difference framework. Explicitly, I compare the labor response of workers just under age 50 who are subject to work requirements to individuals just over age 50 who are not subject to the work requirements. This study will contribute to the current policy debates on the effectiveness of expanding or instituting work requirements for welfare programs such as Medicaid.