Issuance and Incidence: Snap Benefit Cycles and Grocery Prices

62 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2020 Last revised: 10 Feb 2021

See all articles by Jacob Goldin

Jacob Goldin

Stanford Law School

Tatiana Alexandra Homonoff

Cornell University; Cornell University; New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Katherine Meckel

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics

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Date Written: December 2020

Abstract

Many safety-net programs issue benefits as monthly lump-sum payments. We investigate how the timing of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance affects food purchases and the incidence of the transfer. Using retail scanner data from a large sample of grocery stores and state and time variation in SNAP issuance schedules, we document large, SNAP-induced intra-month cycles in food expenditures. However, we find that retailers do not adjust prices based on these predictable patterns of demand. Our results therefore suggest that reforming issuance schedules reduce costs from SNAP-induced demand surges but are unlikely to affect the incidence of SNAP benefits.

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Suggested Citation

Goldin, Jacob and Homonoff, Tatiana Alexandra and Meckel, Katherine, Issuance and Incidence: Snap Benefit Cycles and Grocery Prices (December 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28221, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3753131

Jacob Goldin (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

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Tatiana Alexandra Homonoff

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

Cornell University ( email )

Policy Analysis and Management
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HOME PAGE: http://www.human.cornell.edu/bio.cfm?netid=tah96

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

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Katherine Meckel

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

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College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

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