Does SNAP Improve Your Health?

In this study, we examine the effect of SNAP on health quite generally, examining self-assessed health (SAH), healthy time, and basic health utilization measures as outcomes. Our approach is to model outcomes and participation simultaneously, using exogenous variation in state eligibility to identify SNAP participation. We use this approach for both ordered choices (health) and count outcomes (sickdays, office-based visits, outpatient visits), where the former uses maximum likelihood and the latter maximum simulated likelihood. In addition, we control for state-level unobservables that are correlated with both participation and health, which previous studies of this question have neglected. Our results indicate that SNAP has an consistently positive effect on SAH; it significantly increases the probability of reporting excellent or very good health. We also find that SNAP participants spend between 1 and 2 fewer days in bed due to illness each year, and report between 1 and 2 fewer office-based doctor visits and a fraction fewer outpatient visits. Supplementary specifications indicate that, although SNAP participants consume fewer office visits overall, they have more checkups than comparable non-participants.

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Conference Paper/ Presentation
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JEL Codes:
I12; I38; C35; C38

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-08-22

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