Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2000. Food Stamp Program Data

03/01/2000

The following seven tables and figures provide information about the Food Stamp Program, including information about the Nutrition Assistance Program in Puerto Rico:

  • Tables A-14 and A-15 present national caseload and expenditure trend data on the Food Stamp program, as discussed below;
  • Figure A-5 and Table A-16 present some demographic characteristics of the food stamp caseload; and
  • Tables A-17 through A-19 present some state-by-state trend data on the Food Stamp program through fiscal year 1998.

Table A-14 presents information on the average monthly number of food stamp recipients for each fiscal year since 1970 through Fiscal Year 1999.  Food stamp participation (including participants in Puerto Rico's block grant) has continued to fall from its peak of 28.9 million in 1994 to an average of 19.3 million persons in 1999.  Both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population, food stamp recipiency is lower than at any point in the past twenty years.  See also Table IND 9b and Table IND 10b in Chapter II for further data on the recent decline in food stamp recipiency and participation rates.

Total program costs, shown in Table A-15, have also declined.  In fiscal year 1998, total program costs (including Puerto Rico) were $20.1 billion, reaching their lowest levels since 1984, after adjusting for inflation.  (Average monthly participation in fiscal year 1998 was 21.0 million).  Average monthly benefits per person have also declined in recent years after adjusting for inflation.  Benefits were $72 per person in fiscal year 1999, considerably lower than the $82 per person benefit (in constant dollars) paid in 1992, but higher than the $68 per person paid in 1987.

In general, the health of the economy has historically been a good predictor of the number of participants in the Food Stamp Program.  Economic factors such as increases in unemployment, increases in the number of "working poor," increases in food prices, and changes in the distribution of income are important, as are demographic changes such as an increase in the number of female-headed households.  The size of the food stamp caseload also is influenced by programmatic changes, including amendments to the Food Stamp Program, modifications in other public assistance programs, and changes in immigration laws.  In addition, changes in attitudes toward "welfare" affect the rate at which eligible individuals participate in the program and may also influence the average length of time spent in the program.

A Congressionally mandated study undertaken in 1990 concluded that a variety of factors contributed to the caseload growth in the late 1980s, including increased unemployment, expansions in Medicaid eligibility, and changes in immigration laws, particularly the legalization of undocumented aliens.  Similarly, several factors contribute to the more recent declines in food stamp participation.  Some of these declines can be attributed to eligibility changes made in the 1996 welfare law, most notably the elimination of eligibility for most legal immigrants and for many childless adults aged 18-50.3  The strong economy also played an important role in recent caseload declines.  In addition, studies of families leaving TANF cash assistance suggest that many of them leave the Food Stamp Program as well, even though many of them appear to be eligible for food stamp benefits.  Increased stigma about welfare use and unintentional diversion from the Food Stamp Program may be additional factors affecting food stamp participation.

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"Title" (pdf, 19.99Kb)

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"Table of Contents, Executive Summary" (pdf, 33.35Kb)

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"Chapter I. Introduction" (pdf, 51.31Kb)

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"Chapter II . Indicators of Dependence" (pdf, 159.54Kb)

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"Chapter III. Predictors and Risk Factors Associated with Welfare Receipt" (pdf, 228.15Kb)

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"Appendix A. Program Data" (pdf, 35.33Kb)

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"Figure A-1" (pdf, 10.47Kb)

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"Figure A-6, Figure A-7" (pdf, 19.93Kb)

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"Table A-1" (pdf, 14.74Kb)

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"Table A-12" (pdf, 14.49Kb)

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"Table A-13" (pdf, 13.97Kb)

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"Table A-14" (pdf, 11.6Kb)

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"Table A-15" (pdf, 13.55Kb)

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"Table B-1" (pdf, 9.97Kb)

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