The Benefits of the Safety Net
A new working paper (abstract; PDF) by Hilary W. Hoynes, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, and Douglas Almond examines the effects of in utero and childhood access to the social safety net, specifically food stamps:
A growing economics literature establishes a causal link between in utero shocks and health and human capital in adulthood. Most studies rely on extreme negative shocks such as famine and pandemics. We are the first to examine the impact of a positive and policy-driven change in economic resources available in utero and during childhood. In particular, we focus on the introduction of a key element of the U.S. safety net, the Food Stamp Program, which was rolled out across counties in the U.S. between 1961 and 1975. We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assemble unique data linking family background and county of residence in early childhood to adult health and economic outcomes.