Panel Paper: Hungry for Success? SNAP Timing, SAT Scores, and College Attendance

Thursday, November 7, 2019
I.M Pei Tower: Terrace Level, Columbine (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jillian Carr1, Timothy N. Bond1, Analisa Packham2 and Jonathan Smith3, (1)Purdue University, (2)Vanderbilt University, (3)Georgia State University

Monthly government transfer programs produce cycles of consumption that track benefit receipt, creating periods in which many households experience food insecurity. In this paper, we exploit state-level variation in the staggered timing of nutritional assistance benefit issuance across households to analyze how this monthly cyclicality in food availability affects academic achievement. Using individual-level College Board data on SAT scores and college attendance for low-income high school students, we find that taking a high-stakes college admissions exam in the last two weeks of the SNAP benefit cycle reduces test scores and lowers the probability of attending a 4-year college.