Food Stamp Benefits and Child Poverty in the United States: An Examination of Food Stamp Efficacy in Alleviating Child Poverty

Dean Jolliffe, U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA)
Craig G. Gundersen, U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA)
Laura Tiehen, U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA)
Joshua Winicki, U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA)

In 2000, 8.8 million children received food stamps, making the Food Stamp Program a crucial component of the social safety net. Despite its importance, little research has examined food stamps' effect on children's overall well-being. Using the Current Population Survey, we consider the impact of food stamps on three measures of poverty-the headcount, the poverty-gap, and the squared poverty-gap. These measures portray the incidence, depth, and severity of poverty. With these measures, we first compare the effect of food stamps, before and after welfare reform, on the poverty of households with and without children. Policymakers have proposed two changes to the Food Stamp Program-targeting more benefits to the poorest households and increasing the participation rate among eligible households. We simulate these policy changes and examine their effect on the three poverty measures and compare their relative effectiveness in alleviating poverty in all households and households with children.

Presented in Session 98: Public Policy and Children's Economic Well-Being