Do SNAP Households Pay Different Prices throughout the Benefit Month?


Valizadeh, P.; Smith, T.A.; Ver Ploeg, M.


For households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food expenditures spike upon benefit arrival. We show the price component of expenditure is sensitive to benefit arrival: by the beginning of the fourth week of the benefit month, households pay 20% less on food items. This decline is not induced by changes in shopping behaviors (usage of SNAP, bulk purchases, on-sale, branded, and discount stores) but rather concentrated among a subset of households with financial constraints and/or a preference for higher-quality foods. Increased benefit adequacy and/or financial stability for participants could help households smooth their purchasing power. © 2020 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association