Does Distributing SNAP Benefits Later in the Month Smooth Expenditures?

27 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Chad D. Cotti

Chad D. Cotti

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

John Gordanier

University of South Carolina

Orgul D. Ozturk

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 18, 2021

Abstract

In this paper, we explore whether the alignment of the date a household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the start of the calendar month affects the smoothness of household monthly expenditures. Across states, what day in the calendar month households receive SNAP benefits varies substantially. Further, other income sources (including transfer payments) and many regular household expenditures (e.g., rent) tend to arrive near the beginning of the calendar month. If the alignment of SNAP benefit receipt with the start of the calendar month reduces expenditure smoothing, there may be important health and behavioral impacts for the SNAP population. Our main result is that increasing the median SNAP distribution date in a state by 10 days reduces the standard deviation of weekly spending by 0.23 dollars or approximately 6.5% for SNAP-eligible households. Results are robust to alternative measures of SNAP date distribution and expenditure smoothing.

Suggested Citation

Cotti, Chad D. and Gordanier, John and Ozturk, Orgul D., Does Distributing SNAP Benefits Later in the Month Smooth Expenditures? (January 18, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3768605 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3768605

Chad D. Cotti (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh ( email )

800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI WI 54901
United States

John Gordanier

University of South Carolina ( email )

701 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

Orgul D. Ozturk

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

The Francis M. Hipp Building
1705 College Street
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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