The SNAP and TANF Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

36 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2020 Last revised: 2 Mar 2021

See all articles by Erik Hembre

Erik Hembre

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 26, 2021

Abstract

TANF and SNAP cases increased by 3.4 million between March and June 2020, their largest quarterly increase ever. This paper explores trends on the caseload growth and pandemic policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. TANF and SNAP caseloads initially rose sharply by 10 and 18 percent, but afterwards TANF cases declined to pre-pandemic levels while SNAP caseloads leveled off. Comparing the caseload response relative to the unemployment shocks, each percentage point increase in unemployment is associated with a 1.1 percent increase in TANF cases and a 1.2 percent increase in SNAP cases. Considering the caseload response to pandemic policies, I find that combined unemployment insurance pandemic programs increased SNAP cases by 5 percent and by 3 percent for TANF. I also find that states which adopted pandemic-friendly policies had larger TANF and SNAP caseload growth during the pandemic, especially in states with less restrictive pre-pandemic policies.

Keywords: Public assistance programs, COVID-19 pandemic, poverty

JEL Classification: H0, H53, I3

Suggested Citation

Hembre, Erik, The SNAP and TANF Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (February 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3693339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3693339

Erik Hembre (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

725 University Hall (UH)
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~hembre/

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