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Fields Changed

Field Before After
Last Published May 11, 2018 10:44 AM September 18, 2019 11:01 AM
Program Files Yes
Program Files URL https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/8AWKIL
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Field Before After

Paper Abstract

We develop a framework for welfare analysis of interventions designed to increase take-up of social safety net programs in the presence of potential behavioral biases. We calibrate the key parameters using a randomized field experiment in which 30,000 elderly individuals not enrolled in—but likely eligible for—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are either provided with information that they are likely eligible, provided with this information and offered assistance in applying, or are in a “status quo” control group. Only 6% of the control group enrolls in SNAP over the next nine months, compared to 11% of the Information Only group and 18% of the Information Plus Assistance group. The individuals who apply or enroll in response to either intervention have higher net income and are less sick than the average enrollee in the control group. We present evidence consistent with the existence of optimization frictions that are greater for needier individuals, which suggests that the poor targeting properties of the interventions reduce their welfare benefits.

Paper Citation

Amy Finkelstein, Matthew J Notowidigdo, Take-Up and Targeting: Experimental Evidence from SNAP, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 134, Issue 3, August 2019, Pages 1505–1556, https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz013

Paper URL

https://economics.mit.edu/files/15053 https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz013
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Preliminary Reports
Field Before After

Preliminary Report Abstract

In the United States, enrollment in social safety programs is not automatic, and many social safety programs experience low take-up; many individuals who are eligible for certain programs fail to become enrolled. Researchers studied the impact of providing outreach and assistance to households that are likely eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, on enrollment in the program. Researchers found that informational mailings nearly doubled SNAP enrollment while informational mailings plus application assistance tripled SNAP enrollment, suggesting that both the lack of information and the effort required to apply pose barriers to SNAP take-up.
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