Moving Policies Toward Racial and Ethnic Equality: The Case of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
New research by AAEA President and AAEA members published in AJAE
A new study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics finds that a hypothetical 20% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would reduce the financial disparity in the resources needed to meet basic food needs by 6% for Black and 3% for Hispanic households, relative to White households. While SNAP helps all households meet their food needs, current SNAP support levels leave Black ($92.85) and Hispanic households ($58.57) with a higher weekly food resource gap than White households.
In the new article “Moving Policies Toward Racial and Ethnic Equality: The Case of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” the authors Alfonso Flores-Lagunes and Hugo Jales (Syracuse University), along with Judith Liu (University of Oklahoma) and the AAEA President Norbert Wilson (Duke University), explored whether adjusting the generosity, eligibility, and participation rates of the SNAP could reduce the existing inequality in the food resource gap.
The authors say, “For all SNAP participants, the program helps to close the financial resource gap so that households can better meet their basic food needs. However, despite the strength of the SNAP to lower food insecurity, we see significant differences in the food resource gap and food insecurity by race and ethnicity. For example, in 2021, the USDA reported that the prevalence of food insecurity for Black households (19.8%) and Hispanic households (16.2%) was more than double the prevalence of White households (7.0%). Thus, we considered hypothetical policy scenarios for SNAP to address the inequality in food resources.
- A scenario to increase the benefit generosity of SNAP participants by 20% would reduce the disparity of resources needed to meet basic food needs by 6% for Black and 3% for Hispanic households, relative to White households.
- A scenario to increase SNAP participation of eligible persons by 20% would reduce the disparity in financial resources needed to meet basic food needs by 5% for Black and 2% for Hispanic households, relative to White households.
- A scenario to increase SNAP 20% eligibility results in smaller modifications to the existing inequality in food insecurity exposure across groups.”
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ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit www.aaea.org.
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