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Partially Identifying the Impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on Food Insecurity among Children: Addressing Endogeneity and Misreporting Using the SIPP

March 2011

Craig Gunderson, University of Illinois, Brent Kreider, Iowa State University, and John Pepper, University of Virginia

Download 'working_paper11-03.pdf'.


Using data from the 2004 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP),we reexamine the impact of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as the Food Stamp Program on child food insecurity. By far the largest food assistance program in the United States, SNAP's central goal is to alleviate food insecurity. In this light, policymakers have been perplexed to find positive associations between food insecurity and the receipt of SNAP. Exploiting recent validation data and detailed information on income and program eligibility in the SIPP, we extend recent research that confronts the two main issues confounding identification of the causal impacts of SNAP on food security: endogenous selection into the program and extensive systematic misreporting of participation status. Imposing relatively weak nonparametric assumptions on the selection and reporting error processes, we provide tight bounds on the impact of SNAP on child food insecurity. The SIPP is especially well suited for this project because, along with containing information on food insecurity, it includes all of the information needed to establish eligibility into the program (other datasets are less comprehensive), and SNAP participation is observed at repeated intervals over time.

Child Well-being and Child Development, Food Assistance Programs and Food Security, Social Welfare Programs and Policies