Work Effort and Work Requirements for Food Assistance among U.S. Adults

Joel Cuffey, Timothy K.M. Beatty, Elton Mykerezi

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7 Scopus citations


We investigate the effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements on work effort for a particularly disadvantaged subgroup of potential SNAP participants. Individuals age out of SNAP work requirements at age fifty and requirements are occasionally waived in certain areas. We leverage this policy variation in a regression discontinuity research design and find that, for adults with low income and low education, aging out of work requirements decreases employment, hours worked, and the probability of working over twenty hours per week only when requirements are in effect. This drop in work effort is not apparent among low-income adults in general and is driven by individuals leaving the labor force because they report being unable to work or because they retire. The drop is smaller when states do not provide qualifying work opportunities. Overall, although we find meaningful effects consistent with theory for a subset of low-income adults, it is not clear that the overall number affected is sufficiently large to translate to noticeable labor market effects among low-income adults without dependents in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
StatePublished - Mar 4 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Joel Cuffey is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University. Timothy Beatty is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis. Elton Mykerezi is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota. We would like to thank the editor and referees for helpful comments that improved the quality of the paper. The authors acknowledge generous support from the Research Innovation and Development Grants in Economics Program of the Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin. Cuffey acknowledges support from the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Hatch program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture. This paper replaces the earlier 2015 paper, “Food Assistance and Labor Force Outcomes of Childless Adults: Evidence from the CPS” .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association


  • SNAP
  • work requirements


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