Cornell University

During the fall semester, in-person concerts, events and lectures that involve outside guests will not be held, per the university’s COVID-19 travel and visitor policy.

PAM Virtual Seminar: Amanda Eng, PhD candidate, Cornell University

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 1:15pm to 2:30pm

Virtual Event

Policy Analysis and Mangement virtual seminar. Please email the event coordinator for the zoom link. 

Title: Income and the Take-Up of Means-Tested Programs

Abstract: Pro-work policies usually decrease household participation in traditional safety-net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This negative relationship could be driven by newly working households becoming more self-sufficient or by decreased benefit sizes and higher costs to participate in SNAP and TANF. However, the design of SNAP and TANF makes it difficult to distinguish these factors. In this paper, we estimate how demand for SNAP and TANF changes with income, holding eligibility and take-up costs constant. We use a regression discontinuity design and administrative data on program participation to estimate how additional cash on hand affects program participation. Our variation in income comes from discontinuities in eligibility for tax credits based on whether children are born on or before the end of a calendar year. Tax refunds generally do not affect how much SNAP or TANF benefits households can receive, and we show evidence that take-up costs are the same for households on either side of the cutoff. We find that although eligibility for tax credits decreases households' tax liability by $2,219 on average, the additional income results in no measurable difference in program participation. These findings suggest that there could be significant benefits to expanding eligibility for these programs. 

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