The Relationship Between Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility and SNAP Participation
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has grown rapidly in recent years, with participation increasing from 17 million individuals in 2000 to approximately 47 million in 2012. The dramatic increase in the size of the SNAP caseload has prompted debate over whether or not the program needs to be scaled back. In particular, broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) rules--which allow applicants who receive benefits from other low-income assistance programs to forgo traditional income and asset tests and become automatically eligible for SNAP--have been criticized for allowing less needy individuals to qualify for benefits. This paper examines the extent to which state adoption of BBCE may have contributed to the growth of SNAP between 2000 and 2012. Using annual state-level data from the US Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, I find that BBCE has a modest, positive relationship to the number of SNAP participants per capita.
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