The Digital Divide and E-Government: How Internet Access and Online Applications Impact Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Wise, Andrew S
The past two decades have seen an explosive rise in access to high-speed internet. At the same time, local, state, and national governments have greatly expanded the range of services available through the internet, including the use of online applications for assistance programs. Through econometric analysis of county-level data from the FCC, USDA, and other sources, I measure how internet access and the use of online applications impact enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). My findings suggest that increased access to the internet leads to decreased enrollment in SNAP, even after controlling for fixed effects and confounding variables like unemployment rates and average income – potential evidence of a general quality of life improvement that arises through bridging the Digital Divide. Additionally, my analysis finds that introducing online applications had no measurable effect on SNAP enrollment in areas with high internet access – however, in counties with low internet connectivity, access to online applications was associated with a more than 10% decline in total SNAP enrollment. This likely arises from states diverting resources away from call centers and physical casework offices when rolling out online applications – leaving those without internet access behind. Overall, my results suggest that states which implement online applications should continue to support non-digital SNAP administrative work. Additionally, bridging the Digital Divide must remain an important focus for federal and state governments as more and more aspects of daily life move onto the internet.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
The Impact of State-Level Modernization Efforts on Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Druhan, Julia (Georgetown University, 2012)This paper examines the effect of modernization efforts available to the States on participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills outlined and enacted several measures ...