Ganong P, Liebman JB. The Decline, Rebound, and Further Rise in SNAP Enrollment: Disentangling Business Cycle Fluctuations and Policy Changes. 2013. Copy at http://j.mp/11ISEiO
Abstract:Approximately 1-in-7 people and 1-in-4 children received beneﬁts from the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in July 2011, both all-time highs. We analyze changes in SNAP take-up over the past two decades. From 1994 to 2001, coincident with welfare reform, take-up fell from 75% to 54% of eligible people. The take-up rate then rebounded, and, following several policy changes to improve program access, stabilized at 69% in 2007. Finally, enrollment and take-up rose dramatically in the Great Recession reaching 88% in 2011. We ﬁnd that changes in local unemployment can explain at least two-thirds of the increase in enrollment from 2007 to 2011. Relaxed income and asset thresholds and temporary changes in program rules for childless adults explain 18% of the increase. Total SNAP spending today is 6% higher than it would be without these increases in eligibility. The recession-era increase in beneﬁt levels is also likely to have increased enrollment.