Children with access to SNAP fair better as adults, according to Bailey study

April 23, 2020

Children whose families have access to food assistance get more education, live longer and are less likely to rely on public assistance or be incarcerated as they grow up, according to a University of Michigan-led study.The study examined the effect of the federal Food Stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, on children between conception and age 5 over the course of their lives.It found that children with greater access to economic resources before age 5 experience a significant increase in their adult education, are more likely to be economically self-sufficient in adulthood, live in a higher-quality neighborhood as adults, and are less likely to be incarcerated. Individuals with access to Food Stamps as children also live longer.These numbers imply measurable returns on investments, according to the study authors. Individuals supported by food stamps or SNAP have higher lifelong earnings and are less likely to rely themselves on federal assistance or cost the public dollars due to incarceration.That is to say, by calculating how much money a person would generate in tax revenue-as well as not relying on government assistance-the researchers found it is cheaper for the federal government to spend money upfront by providing food resources to children than not providing those resources.”Our results show that access to food stamps in childhood has large consequences for adult well-being,” said study co-author Martha Bailey, professor of economics and research professor in the Population Studies Center at the U-M Institute for Social Research. “Our findings have important implications for current debates about the social safety net.”

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