How Are Immigrants Faring After Welfare Reform?. Appendix 4: Food Stamp Receipt, Loss and Reduction

03/04/2002

The LANYCIS survey allows in-depth examination of food stamps use, loss and reduction among immigrant families. The survey over-samples food stamps recipients, using lists of recipients provided by public social service agencies in Los Angeles and New York. Sample weights have been adjusted to account for this sampling strategy. Two screener questions determine whether or not a family received food stamps at different points in time:

  • Since January 1998, did you (or any other members of your family living with you) get food stamps? (Yes, No, Don't Know, or Refused)
  • What about in 1996 or 1997? Did you (or did any other members of your family living with you) get food stamps at any time in the two year period from January 1996 through December 1997? (Yes, No, Don't Know, or Refused)

The second screener question is only asked in cases with a negative response to the first. Then a series of more detailed food stamps questions are asked of all families answering affirmative to either of these questions.

First, the respondent is asked if the family is currently receiving food stamps. If the answer is affirmative, he or she is asked about the amount of the monthly benefit, and whether it has been reduced.

If the family does not currently receive food stamps, the respondent is asked when and why benefits were terminated, the average monthly amount of the benefit before termination, and whether or not benefits were reduced prior to termination. If the benefit amount had been reduced, the respondent is asked when, why, and by how much the benefit was reduced.

If the family received food stamps since 1998 but not in 1996 or 1997, the respondent is asked a similar set of questions, excluding questions about benefits reductions.

If the family received food stamps in 1996 or 1997 but not since 1998, the respondent is asked when and why they stopped receiving food stamps, as well as how much they were receiving before benefits were terminated. Then he or she is asked if the benefit had been reduced prior to termination. If the benefit amount had been reduced, the respondent is asked when, why, and by how much the benefit was reduced.

Using data from the screener and follow-up questions described above we categorize food stamps use as follows:

1. Families Receiving Food Stamps Last Year (kept, not reduced): families who kept food stamps until the time of the survey, and did not have their benefit amount reduced

2. Families Receiving Food Stamps Last Year (left or reduced): families who had their food stamps benefits terminated or reduced during the 12-month span before the survey.

3. Families Receiving Food Stamps Last Year: All families receiving benefits during the 12-month span before the survey. Sum of categories 1 and 2.

4. Families Using Food Stamps Since 1996: All families receiving benefits since 1996/97 (answered "yes" to second food stamps screener question listed above).

5. No food stamps use: Families who did not receive food stamps at any time since 1996/97.

6. Food stamps use, termination date unknown (excluded as missing cases): Families that received food stamps, but later had benefits terminated. Information about when benefits were terminated is missing.

Construction of the variables for food stamps receipt within the last year involved some imputations to determine the date when benefits were reduced or terminated. Possible scenarios for determining reduction and termination dates include: (1) responses for both calendar year and month; (2) responses for calendar year and season; (3) response for calendar year but nonresponse for month and season; and (4) nonresponse for year. In the first scenario, no imputation is required. In the second, we impute month from season: winter to January, spring to April, summer to July, and fall to October. In the third scenario, if the year of termination or reduction is the same as the interview year, then we impute that the family lost food stamps within the last year. If the year of termination or reduction is the year before the survey, then we cannot determine whether or not benefits were lost or reduced less than 12 months before the interview. If the year the family lost benefits is more than one year before the interview, then that family left food stamps before last year.

Endnotes

52.  There are small discrepancies between these data and the unweighted sample sizes shown in Table 1.1. For example, Table 1.1 classifies all people 65 or older as elderly, while the appendix table shows people on the basis of their original sample designation, and many of the respondents or spouses were elderly. In addition, the total sample sizes in the appendix are slightly higher because a couple of people had missing values on immigration status variables.

53.  There are alternative methods to compute response rates, particularly for telephone surveys. The estimates cited here correspond to the RR6 method, as defined by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (1998). An alternative, stricter definition is RR3, which estimates a 51-percent response rate. The difference in rates involves varying assumptions about the eligibility of people who could not be contacted (e.g., where the telephone was never answered).

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