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Have electronic benefits cards improved food access for food stamp recipients?

Have electronic benefits cards improved food access for food stamp recipients? PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card reforms in California’s Food Stamp Program, and its impact on food insecurity.Design/methodology/approachThe authors test the hypothesis that EBT cards reduce food insecurity by reducing the food costs associated with loss and theft of benefits, as well as by decreasing fraudulent sales of benefits. The authors use a natural experiment in the form of the time-varying roll-out of EBT card reforms across California counties in conjunction with the California Health Interview Survey, to conduct an event study.FindingsThe findings suggest no evidence for a decrease in food insecurity. The authors do, however, find evidence of a transitory increase in food insecurity immediately following implementation of EBT reforms. Reforms increase the likelihood of food insecurity by about 3 percent for up to two months. The result is distinguishable from zero, and robust to changes in specification, inclusion of controls, and measurement choices. The authors posit the increase was due to frictions in the transition to EBT card systems.Originality/valueAlthough a considerable literature with regard to the FSP exists, very little has been written investigating a specific linkage between EBT cards and food security. The findings are not supportive of policy makers’ hypothesis that a positive externality of EBT benefits delivery is a lasting reduction in food insecurity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Economic Studies Emerald Publishing

Have electronic benefits cards improved food access for food stamp recipients?

Journal of Economic Studies , Volume 44 (6): 18 – Nov 13, 2017

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References (34)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0144-3585
DOI
10.1108/JES-10-2016-0193
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to investigate electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card reforms in California’s Food Stamp Program, and its impact on food insecurity.Design/methodology/approachThe authors test the hypothesis that EBT cards reduce food insecurity by reducing the food costs associated with loss and theft of benefits, as well as by decreasing fraudulent sales of benefits. The authors use a natural experiment in the form of the time-varying roll-out of EBT card reforms across California counties in conjunction with the California Health Interview Survey, to conduct an event study.FindingsThe findings suggest no evidence for a decrease in food insecurity. The authors do, however, find evidence of a transitory increase in food insecurity immediately following implementation of EBT reforms. Reforms increase the likelihood of food insecurity by about 3 percent for up to two months. The result is distinguishable from zero, and robust to changes in specification, inclusion of controls, and measurement choices. The authors posit the increase was due to frictions in the transition to EBT card systems.Originality/valueAlthough a considerable literature with regard to the FSP exists, very little has been written investigating a specific linkage between EBT cards and food security. The findings are not supportive of policy makers’ hypothesis that a positive externality of EBT benefits delivery is a lasting reduction in food insecurity.

Journal

Journal of Economic StudiesEmerald Publishing

Published: Nov 13, 2017

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