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When does it count? The timing of food stamp receipt and educational performance

Chad Cotti, John Gordanier and Orgul Ozturk

Economics of Education Review, 2018, vol. 66, issue C, 40-50

Abstract: The effect of poor nutrition has been established as an important determinant of learning and achievement among school-age children. Further, it has been shown that households’ receiving food stamps fail to smooth consumption over the benefit month and experience periods of meaningful nutritional deficiencies. This paper exploits detailed administrative data on standardized math tests scores and randomized food stamp receipt dates to allow us to measure the impact of these low nutritional periods on student performance. Our main results demonstrate that scores are notably lower when the exam falls near the end of the benefit cycle and when food stamps arrive on the 4 days immediately preceding the exam. While both male and female students experienced a similar penalty with receipt near the end of the cycle, the effect from receipt just prior to the exam appears to be partially explained by a large negative effect associated with weekend receipt, which coincides with the 4 days prior to the exam. Our results provide evidence that households do not sufficiently smooth consumption and that this has measurable effects on student performance.

Keywords: SNAP Benefits; Educational Outcomes; Consumption Cycles (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I31 I38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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