2016 Annual Meeting

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“Why SNAP Matters: Effects on poverty, food insecurity and health”

Hilary Hoynes, University of California, Berkeley

More than 46 million Americans live in poverty and high rates of food insecurity and obesity are also a persistent concern. Food Stamps, or SNAP, occupies a central role in the U.S. safety net, as the only universal aid program for low income individuals. I frame the talk around reviewing the evidence in meeting the two goals of SNAP – to provide income support and improve nutrition. I will discuss the trends in poverty and inequality in the U.S, and how SNAP affects poverty overall and particularly in the Great Recession. Additionally, I will review the evidence on the impact of SNAP on food insecurity and health. This will include new evidence on how access to social safety net programs in early life affect health and human capital outcomes in adulthood.

Hilary Hoynes is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley where she holds the Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities. She is the co-editor of the leading journal in economics, American Economic Review. Hoynes specializes in the study of poverty and inequality and the effects of government policies on low income families. In recent projects she examines how exposure to Food Stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit in childhood influences health and human capital contemporaneously and in adulthood. In addition to her faculty appointment, Hoynes has research affiliations at the NBER, the University of California, Davis, Center for Poverty Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Hoynes received her undergraduate degree from Colby College and her PhD from Stanford University in 1992.

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