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Is the Social Safety Net a Long-Term Investment? Large-Scale Evidence from the Food Stamps Program

March 14, 20194:00 pm6:00 pm


After Social Security, the Food Stamp Program touches the lives of more American families than any other element of the social safety net. What is the impact of this program on the long-term outcomes of children who receive these resources early in life?

Hoynes uses the rollout of the Food Stamp Program between 1961 and 1975 to examine the impact of an increase in economic resources during childhood on human capital, labor market outcomes, neighborhood, and mortality. Using novel large-scale data from the 2000 Census, American Community Survey, and Social Security Administration NUMIDENT, this research analyzes data on 43 million individuals. She finds that access to food stamps in childhood leads to long-term improvements in human capital, quality of life, and mortality. As more families come to rely on the social safety net, cultivating a better understanding of the long-term effects of food stamps is critical.


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About the Speaker:

 Hilary Hoynes is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of California Berkeley. She holds the Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities and also co-directs the Berkeley Opportunity Lab. She has served as Co-Editor of the American Economic Review and the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and is on the editorial board of the American Economic Review: Insights. Her research focuses on poverty, inequality, food and nutrition programs, and the impacts of government tax and transfer programs on low income families.

Her research has been featured in a recent Vox article, as well as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.


 Jesse Rothstein is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the University of California Berkeley, and the current Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 2009 and spent the 2009-10 academic year in public service, first as Senior Economist at the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and then as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. His research interests include economics of education; local public finance; school and teacher accountability and performance measurement; discrimination; inequality; affirmative action; black-white gaps in educational and economic outcomes; tax and transfer policy.

This event is co-sponsored by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and the Goldman School of Public Policy.