Economics Seminar Series

Melissa McInerney, Tufts University.

Melissa McInerney, Tufts University

Melissa McInerney, Tufts University

The Responses of Older Adults to SNAP Benefit Expansions

De Fen Hsu, Melissa McInerney, Melinda S. Morrill

Abstract: Food insecurity among older adults is rising, and they have the lowest SNAP take-up rate, despite having expanded eligibility criteria. This project examines (1) whether older adults are responsive to SNAP eligibility expansions and (2) which older adults participate following expansions. Although SNAP is a federal program, states can adopt policies to bolster participation and increase food security, such as Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE). With BBCE, states have discretion over which types of households to include, the gross income limit, and the asset limit. Given this heterogeneity in how BBCE changes eligibility, it is critical for policymakers to understand which components increase participation. The project uses the American Community Survey (ACS) and implements two complementary estimation strategies leveraging state-by-year variation in BBCE policy adoption. First, a two-way fixed effects (TWFE) estimator allows separate identification of the impacts of policy characteristics such as relaxing income versus asset limits. Second, a Simulated Eligibility Variable (SEV) approach provides a single estimate of how program generosity affects participation. Finally, the large sample size of the ACS allows a rich exploration of the characteristics of older adults affected by BBCE.

DATE: Friday, March 15, 2024

TIME: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Fronczak 444