Access to Food Stamps in Early Childhood Leads to Better Adult Health and Economic Outcomes

Nov 21, 2012

By Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Lavanya Mohan

We already knew that food stamp benefits (now officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) reduce poverty and improve children’s health.  A new National Bureau on Economic Research paper finds that having access to food stamps in early childhood also has positive effects on adult outcomes years later, including health and economic self-sufficiency.

The study takes advantage of the fact that the Food Stamp program was not implemented at the same time nationwide, but was rolled out an a county-by-county basis between 1962 and 1975.  This allows the researchers to compare the adult outcomes of disadvantaged children who were born in counties where food stamps were available to those of disadvantaged children from counties where the program had not been implemented when they were children. 

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