Safety Net Use

  • Karen Jusko
  • Mark Duggan
  • Hilary Hoynes

Leaders: Mark Duggan, Hilary Hoynes, Karen Jusko

The Safety Net RG is devoted to monitoring changes in government transfers and anti-poverty programs and assessing whether they are meeting the needs of the poor. The U.S. safety net is undergoing such changes as (a) an ongoing decline in TANF cash benefits, (b) rapid increases in spending on EITC, Medicaid, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, and SNAP, and (c) a dramatic shift toward spending that favors the “working poor” over the more destitute. The CPI affiliates working within this research group are monitoring these changes, examining their implications for poverty, assessing the effectiveness of key government and nongovernment programs in reducing poverty, and modeling the costs and benefits of possible changes in policy and programs. We’ve provided a sampling here of some of this ongoing research.

Poverty Relief Project: With Kate Weisshaar, Karen Jusko uses the poverty relief ratio to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs over time, across states, and across countries. Which state is the least effective in fighting poverty? Has the U.S. become more or less effective over time? These and other questions are answered in our latest State of the Union reports.

Long-run effects of SNAP: Have we underestimated the returns to SNAP by ignoring the long-run effects on children exposed to it in their early childhood? It’s now possible to find out.

California Welfare LaboratoryThe poverty rate in California, when measured with the Supplemental Poverty Measure, is the highest in the country. What can be done to bring that rate down? The mission of the California Welfare Laboratory is to make research on California’s welfare programs accessible to all and thus facilitate an informed discussion of what is working and what needs to be improved.

Differential EITC effects: It is often argued that early interventions have especially high payoffs.  Are the returns to the EITC indeed larger when it goes to parents with young children?

Disability and poverty: Does the federal government’s disability program reduce labor supply? Although it’s long been difficult to identify a causal effect, Mark Duggan has now found a way.

The effects of TANF: The TANF program is very decentralized and thus takes on dramatically different forms. How can we exploit that variability to find out what’s working?

Safety Net - CPI Research

Title Author Media
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? The Safety Net and Poverty in the Great Recession Marianne Bitler, Hilary Hoynes

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same? The Safety Net and Poverty in the Great Recession

Author: Marianne Bitler, Hilary Hoynes
Publisher: Journal of Labor Economics
Date: 01/2016

Much attention has been given to the large increases in safety net spending during the Great Recession. We examine the relationship between poverty, the safety net, and business cycles historically and test whether there has been a significant change in this relationship. We find that post-welfare reform, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families did not respond during the Great Recession and extreme poverty is more cyclical than in prior recessions. Food Stamps and Unemployment Insurance are providing more protection--or no less protection--in the Great Recession, and there is some evidence of less cyclicality for 100% poverty.

State of the States: Safety Net Karen Long Jusko

State of the States: Safety Net

Author: Karen Long Jusko
Publisher:
Date: 09/2015

In non-recessionary periods, the safety net provides about 38 percent of the income support needed to raise incomes up to the official poverty line. Only four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington) provide more than 60 percent of the support needed.

Spatial Assimilation in U.S. Cities and Communities? Emerging Patterns of Hispanic Segregation from Blacks and Whites Daniel T. Lichter, Domenico Parisi, Michael C. Taquino

Spatial Assimilation in U.S. Cities and Communities? Emerging Patterns of Hispanic Segregation from Blacks and Whites

Author: Daniel T. Lichter, Domenico Parisi, Michael C. Taquino
Publisher: Sage Publications
Date: 07/2015

This article provides a geographically inclusive empirical framework for studying changing U.S. patterns of Hispanic segregation. Whether Hispanics have joined the American mainstream depends in part on whether they translate upward mobility into residence patterns that mirror the rest of the nation. Based on block and place data from the 1990–2010 decennial censuses, our results provide evidence of increasing spatial assimilation among Hispanics, both nationally and in new immigrant destinations. Segregation from whites declined across the urban size-of-place hierarchy and in new destinations. Hispanics are also less segregated from whites than from blacks, but declines in Hispanic-black segregation have exceeded declines in Hispanic-white segregation. This result is consistent with the notion of U.S. Hispanics as a racialized population—one in which members sometimes lack the freedom to join whites in better communities. Hispanic income was significantly associated with less segregation from whites, but income inequality alone does not explain overall Hispanic segregation, which remains high. The segmented assimilation of Hispanics that we observe supports two seemingly contradictory theories: both the idea that spatial assimilation can come from economic and cultural assimilation and the notion that economic mobility is no guarantee of residential integration.

 

The Effect of Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Evidence from the 2012-2013 Phase-Out Henry S. Farber , Jesse Rothstein, Robert G. Valletta

The Effect of Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Evidence from the 2012-2013 Phase-Out

Author: Henry S. Farber , Jesse Rothstein, Robert G. Valletta
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 05/2015

Unemployment Insurance benefit durations were extended during the Great Recession, reaching 99 weeks for most recipients. The extensions were rolled back and eventually terminated by the end of 2013. Using matched CPS data from 2008-2014, we estimate the effect of extended benefits on unemployment exits separately during the earlier period of benefit expansion and the later period of rollback. In both periods, we find little or no effect on job-finding but a reduction in labor force exits due to benefit availability. We estimate that the rollbacks reduced the labor force participation rate by about 0.1 percentage point in early 2014.

The Impact of Market Size and Composition on Health Insurance Premiums: Evidence from the First Year of the Affordable Care Act Michael J. Dickstein , Mark Duggan, Joe Orsini , Pietro Tebaldi

The Impact of Market Size and Composition on Health Insurance Premiums: Evidence from the First Year of the Affordable Care Act

Author: Michael J. Dickstein , Mark Duggan, Joe Orsini , Pietro Tebaldi
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 05/2015

Under the Affordable Care Act, individual states have discretion in how they define coverage regions, within which insurers must charge the same premium to buyers of the same age, family structure, and smoking status. We exploit variation in these definitions to investigate whether the size of the coverage region affects outcomes in the ACA marketplaces. We find large consequences for small and rural markets. When states combine small counties with neighboring urban areas into a single region, the included rural markets see 0.6 to 0.8 more active insurers, on average, and savings in annual premiums of between $200 and $300.

safety net - CPI Affiliates

Jan O. Jonsson's picture Jan O. Jonsson Official Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University
Oxford University
Janet Currie Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs; Chair, Department of Economics; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research; Director, Center for Health and Well Being
Princeton University
Jeffrey Grogger's picture Jeffrey Grogger Irving Harris Professor in Urban Policy; Research Associate, NORC
The University of Chicago
Jeffrey R. Kling's picture Jeffrey R. Kling Associate Director for Economic Analysis, Congressional Budget Office; Senior Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research
Congressional Budget Office
Julie-Berry Cullen Professor of Economics, Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research
University of California, San Diego

Pages

Safety Net - Other Research

Title Author Media
Errors in Survey Reporting and Imputation and their Effects on Estimates of Food Stamp Program Participation Bruce D. Meyer, Robert M. Goerge, Nikolas Mittag

Errors in Survey Reporting and Imputation and their Effects on Estimates of Food Stamp Program Participation

Author: Bruce D. Meyer, Robert M. Goerge, Nikolas Mittag
Publisher:
Date: 06/2015

Measuring government benefit receipt in household surveys is important to assess the economic circumstances of disadvantaged populations, program takeup, the distributional effects of government programs, and other program effects. Receipt of food stamps is especially important given the large and growing size of the program and evidence of its effects on labor supply, health and other outcomes. We use administrative data on food
stamp participation in two states matched to American Community Survey (ACS), Current Population Survey (CPS), and Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) household data. We find that 23 percent of true recipient households do not report receipt in the SIPP, 35 percent in the ACS, and fully 50 percent do not report receipt in the CPS. Both false negative and false positive reports vary with individual characteristics, leading to complicated biases in food stamp analyses. Our results are also informative about the reasons for misreporting and the success of different survey methods. We then directly examine biases in research finding, in particular the determinants of program receipt using our combined administrative and survey data. Our results differ from conventional estimates in showing higher participation by single parents, non-whites, middle-income households, and other groups. We directly examine one source of potential error, Census Bureau imputations, finding that excluding the imputed observations leads to worse ACS estimates, but has little effect on the CPS and SIPP estimates.

The War on Poverty: Measurement, Trends, and Policy Robert Haveman, Rebecca Blank, Robert Moffitt, Timothy Smeeding, Geoffrey Wallace

The War on Poverty: Measurement, Trends, and Policy

Author: Robert Haveman, Rebecca Blank, Robert Moffitt, Timothy Smeeding, Geoffrey Wallace
Publisher: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Date: 05/2015

We present a 50-year historical perspective of the nation's antipoverty efforts, describing the evolution of policy during four key periods since 1965. Over this half-century, the initial heavy reliance on cash income support to poor families has eroded; increases in public support came largely in the form of in-kind (e.g., Food Stamps) and tax-related (e.g., the Earned Income Tax Credit) benefits. Work support and the supplementation of earnings substituted for direct support. These shifts eroded the safety net for the most disadvantaged in American society. Three poverty-related analytical developments are also described. The rise of the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)—taking account of noncash and tax-related benefits—has corrected some of the serious weaknesses of the official poverty measure (OPM). The SPM measure indicates that the poverty rate has declined over time, rather than being essentially flat as the OPM implies. We also present snapshots of the composition of the poor population in the United States using both the OPM and the SPM, showing progress in reducing poverty overall and among specific socioeconomic subgroups since the beginning of the War on Poverty. Finally, we document the expenditure levels of numerous antipoverty programs that have accompanied the several phases of poverty policy and describe the effect of these efforts on the level of poverty. Although the effectiveness of government antipoverty transfers is debated, our findings indicate that the growth of antipoverty policies has reduced the overall level of poverty, with substantial reductions among the elderly, disabled, and blacks. However, the poverty rates for children, especially those living in single-parent families, and families headed by a low-skill, low-education person, have increased. Rates of deep poverty (families living with less than one-half of the poverty line) for the nonelderly population have not decreased, reflecting both the increasing labor market difficulties faced by the low-skill population and the tilt of means-tested benefits away from the poorest of the poor.

Prediction Policy Problems Jon Kleinberg , Jens Ludwig , Sendhil Mullainathan , Ziad Obermeyer

Prediction Policy Problems

Author: Jon Kleinberg , Jens Ludwig , Sendhil Mullainathan , Ziad Obermeyer
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 05/2015

Most empirical policy work focuses on causal inference. We argue an important class of policy problems does not require causal inference but instead requires predictive inference. Solving these "prediction policy problems" requires more than simple regression techniques, since these are tuned to generating unbiased estimates of coefficients rather than minimizing prediction error. We argue that new developments in the field of "machine learning" are particularly useful for addressing these prediction problems. We use an example from health policy to illustrate the large potential social welfare gains from improved prediction.

Immigration Enforcement and the “Chilling Effect” on Latino Medicaid Enrollment Francisco I. Padraza, Ling Zhu

Immigration Enforcement and the “Chilling Effect” on Latino Medicaid Enrollment

Author: Francisco I. Padraza, Ling Zhu
Publisher:
Date: 01/2015

Is contemporary interior immigration enforcement generating a “chilling effect” on Medicaiduse among Latinos? In the first section we theorize the “chilling effect” as a subclass of “massfeedback effects,” which we expand to include a narrative of contemporary Latino politics. In the second section we introduce the details of Secure Communities and explain how itfits in the broader development of America’s new immigration enforcement regime. The section after that describes our data, measures and methods. In addition to complimenting existing findings on the “chilling effect” of immigration enforcement, we present analyses that show patterns of heterogenous “chilling effects,” both in terms of nativity and immigrantgeneration, and across race/ethnicity and immigration status. The final section summarizes and concludes with thoughts about future research directions.

The Inverse Equity Hypothesis: Does It Apply to Coverage of Cancer Screening in Middle-Income Countries? Lee, J. T., Huang, Z., Basu, S., Millett, C.

The Inverse Equity Hypothesis: Does It Apply to Coverage of Cancer Screening in Middle-Income Countries?

Author: Lee, J. T., Huang, Z., Basu, S., Millett, C.
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group Limited
Date: 10/2014

It is uncertain whether the inverse equity hypothesis-the idea that new health interventions are initially primarily accessed by the rich, but that inequalities narrow with diffusion to the poor-holds true for cancer screening in low and middle income countries (LMICs).This study examines the relationship between overall coverage and economic inequalities in coverage of cancer screening in four middle-income countries.Secondary analyses of cross-sectional data from the WHO study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in China, Mexico, Russia and South Africa (2007-2010). Three regression-based methods were used to measure economic inequalities: (1) Adjusted OR; (2) Relative Index of Inequality (RII); and (3) Slope Index of Inequality.Coverage for breast cancer screening was 10.5% in South Africa, 19.3% in China, 33.8% in Russia and 43% in Mexico, and coverage for cervical cancer screening was 24% in South Africa, 27.2% in China, 63.7% in Mexico and 81.5% in Russia. Economic inequalities in screening participation were substantially lower or non-existent in countries with higher aggregate coverage, for both breast cancer screening (RII: 14.57 in South Africa, 4.90 in China, 2.01 in Mexico, 1.04 in Russia) and cervical cancer screening (RII: 3.60 in China, 2.47 in South Africa, 1.39 in Mexico, 1.12 in Russia).Economic inequalities in breast and cervical cancer screening are low in LMICs with high screening coverage. These findings are consistent with the inverse equity hypothesis and indicate that high levels of equity in cancer screening are feasible even in countries with high income inequality.

 

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