The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Material Hardships among Low-Income Households with Children

This study estimates the effects of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the risk of food as well as nonfood material hardships experienced by low-income households with children. Data are drawn from the 1996, 2001, and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). We examine the relationship between SNAP and material hardships by modeling jointly the likelihood of household participation in SNAP and the risk of experiencing material hardships using a bivariate probit model. We estimate that SNAP reduces household food insecurity by 12.8 percentage points, reduces the risk that households will fall behind on their nonfood essential expenses, including housing (by 7.2 percentage points) and utilities (by 15.3 percentage points), and reduces the risk of medical hardship (by 8.5 percentage points).