The Timing of SNAP Benefit Receipt and Children’s Academic Achievement

Anna Gassman-Pines, Duke University

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides cash-like benefits to low-income people that can only be used to purchase food. This paper investigates relationships between the timing of SNAP benefit receipt and children’s achievement test scores in North Carolina (NC), using a unique dataset I have created that links administrative data on test scores from the NC Department of Public Instruction and data on SNAP receipt from the Department of Health and Human Services. Using this dataset, I examine whether recency of SNAP benefit receipt affects children’s test scores, by comparing children tested at the beginning of their families’ monthly benefit cycle to children tested at the end of their families’ benefit cycle. Importantly, in NC, timing of benefit receipt within the month varies randomly by household based only on the last digit of the recipient’s social security number. Results will have implications for inequality between low-income and higher-income children.

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Presented in Session 133: Social Policy, the Social Safety Net, and Inequality