Back to Top

The SNAP Effect: Food Stamps and America’s Poorest

AAEA members release new research in AJAE

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has substantially increased the effective incomes of the poorest people in America – lifting the floor of income to half the poverty line during the 2011-15 period, which is indicative of virtually eliminating deep poverty. The program accounts for a sizable portion of spending in the Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization in 2023.  The effectiveness of SNAP in helping  the poorest U.S. households is an important consideration in the Congressional deliberations over the Farm Bill reauthorization.

In the new article “Food Stamps and America’s Poorest” published in the American Journal of Agricutlrual Economics, Dean Jolliffe from the World Bank, Laura Tiehen from the USDA Economic Research Service, Juan Margitic and Martin Ravallion from Georgetown University examine the extent that SNAP has lifted the incomes of the poorest households in the United States.

The authors say, “We use a novel measure of deprivation – the floor of income – which is calculated as the weighted average of the lowest observed incomes in a society, where the households with the lowest incomes get the most weight. The measure was developed by Martin Ravallion, who sadly passed away last December, and is one of his great many contributions to the study of poverty and inequality.”

They continue, “We show that SNAP benefits, when corrected for the underreporting that is typical in household surveys, increased the income floor to 50% of the poverty line from 2011 to 2015, indicative of virtually eliminating deep poverty. The addition of SNAP benefits to income reverses a 16-year long decline of the income floor.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview, please contact Allison Ware in the AAEA Business Office.

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

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190