Food Stamps and Dependency: Disentangling the Short-term and Long-term Economic Effects of Food Stamp Receipt and Low Income for Young Mothers

VartaAnian, Thomas P.; Houser, Linda; Harkness, Joseph
December 2011
Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare;Dec2011, Vol. 38 Issue 4, p101
Academic Journal
The Food Stamp Program (FSP) remains one of the most widely used of all U.S. social "safety net" programs. While a substantial body of research has developed around the primary goals of the program- improving food access, nutrition, and health among lowincome families-less attention has been paid to the broader goals of hardship and poverty reduction. Using 38 years of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we examine several immediate and longer-term economic outcomes of early adult FSP participation for a sample of 3,848 young mothers. While FSP participation is associated with some negative outcomes in the immediate future in areas including family income-to-needs and transfer income, such effects are substantially reduced or disappear over the long run. These results suggest that concerns about the adverse economic effects of assistance, based solely on short-term outcomes or outcomes measured at a single point in time, do not hold for the long run. We find no evidence that food stamp recipients in early motherhood are any more or less dependent on public assistance programs than other young mothers who have low income but do not use food stamps.


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