comments_image Comments

SNAP out of it, conservatives!

I recently pointed out that contrary to conservative claims that the food stamp, or SNAP, program has run amok, participation is high for a reason: there are still a lot of folks struggling to provide their families with adequate nutrition, and this program has been particularly responsive to that need.  This is what we call: a good thing, not a bad thing.  As I wrote then:

SNAP rolls increased sharply in the recession, as you’d expect—along with UI, SNAP was and is highly elastic to increased need—[and] they’ve decelerated of late as the economy has slowly improved, though here again, it’s not improved as fast for those more exposed to food insecurity.

But did they increase more than they “should have” over the past few years?  One simple way to answer that question is to build a statistical model of SNAP caseloads as a function of the economy, estimate the model through 2007, and then project caseloads over the next few years based on actual economic outcomes. Then compare your forecast to the actual path of food stamp rolls.  If the conservatives are right (and you’ve got a solid model), then your prediction should be well below the actual caseload path.

Continue Reading...