Limited English Proficiency and Food Stamp Receipt in the United States

Stephanie Ewert, U.S. Census Bureau

The United States offers a variety of public benefits programs that are designed to prevent the poor and vulnerable from falling below a given poverty level. These social safety nets are transfer programs and include cash transfers, food-based programs, subsidies for electricity or transportation, and fee waivers for health care and utilities. All are designed to assist people living in poverty or at risk of falling into poverty. However, not all people who could benefit from these programs access this assistance. To what extent does limited English proficiency shape one’s access to benefits? This paper uses data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to explore the association between language and food stamp receipt. Specifically, we use bivariate probit models with sample selection to examine whether limited English proficiency contributes to why eligible people do not participate in the food stamp program, net of race and nativity.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity