Local Food Prices, Snap Purchasing Power, and Child Health

56 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2018 Last revised: 28 Feb 2021

See all articles by Erin Todd Bronchetti

Erin Todd Bronchetti

Swarthmore College

Garret Chistensen

University of California, Berkeley

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is one of the most important elements of the social safety net. Unlike most other safety net programs, SNAP varies little across states and over time, which creates challenges for quasi-experimental evaluation. Notably, SNAP benefits are fixed across 48 states; but local food prices vary, leading to geographic variation in the real value – or purchasing power – of SNAP benefits. In this study, we provide the first estimates that leverage variation in SNAP purchasing power across markets to examine effects of SNAP on child health. We link panel data on regional food prices to National Health Interview Survey data and use a fixed effects framework to estimate the relationship between local purchasing power of SNAP and children’s health and health care utilization. We find that lower SNAP purchasing power leads to lower utilization of preventive health care and more days of school missed due to illness. We find no effect on reported health status.

Suggested Citation

Bronchetti, Erin Todd and Chistensen, Garret and Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, Local Food Prices, Snap Purchasing Power, and Child Health (June 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24762, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3206416

Erin Todd Bronchetti (Contact Author)

Swarthmore College ( email )

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States

Garret Chistensen

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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