Issuance and Incidence: SNAP Benefit Cycles and Grocery Prices†

Jacob Goldin, Tatiana Homonoff, Katherine Meckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many safety net programs issue benefits as monthly lumpsum payments. We investigate how the timing of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit issuance affects food purchases and the incidence of the transfer. Using scanner data from a large sample of grocery stores and state and time variation in SNAP issuance schedules, we document large, SNAP-induced intramonth cycles in food expenditures. However, we find that retailers do not adjust prices based on these predictable patterns of demand. Our results therefore suggest that reforming issuance schedules may reduce costs from SNAP-induced demand surges but are unlikely to affect the incidence of SNAP benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-178
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Economic Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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