Estimating the Associations between SNAP and Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Food Purchases with Imperfect Administrative Measures of Participation

Charles Courtemanche, Augustine Denteh, Rusty Tchernis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Administrative data are considered the “gold standard” when measuring program participation, but little evidence exists on their potential problems or implications for econometric estimates. We explore these issues using the FoodAPS, a unique data set containing two different administrative measures of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and a survey-based measure. We document substantial ambiguity in the two administrative measures and show that they disagree with each other almost as often as they disagree with self-reported participation. Estimated participation and misreporting rates can be meaningfully sensitive to choices made to resolve this ambiguity and disagreement. We explore sensitivity in regression estimates of the associations between SNAP and food insecurity, obesity, and the healthy eating index. The signs are unchanged across the three measures, and the estimates are mostly not statistically different from each other. However, there are some meaningful differences in the magnitudes and levels of statistical significance of the estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-228
Number of pages27
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Volume86
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by USDA grant no. 59-5000-5-0115 to the National Bureau of Economic Research, entitled, “Using FoodAPS for Research in Diet, Health, Nutrition, and Food Security.” The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Economic Research Service, Food and Nutrition Service, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We thank the editor Madeline Zavodny, anonymous referees, Marianne Bitler, Janet Currie, Christian Gregory, John Kirlin, Diane Schanzenbach, and audiences at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Fall Research Conference, National Bureau of Economic Research Conferences on Using FoodAPS for Research in Diet, Health, Nutrition, and Food Security, and the USDA Economic Research Service for helpful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Southern Economic Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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