College - Author 1

Orfalea College of Business

Department - Author 1

Economics Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Economics



Primary Advisor

Jacqueline Doremus, Orfalea College of Business, Economics Department


Objectives. This study examines whether food stamp participation status impacts the mental health of its recipients.

Methods. We use 2017 data from the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics to construct a propensity score model to match treated and control individuals, circumventing inherent selection bias and estimating causal effects.

Results. We find that enrolling in food stamps within the past 30 days increases the frequency of emotional distress over the same timeframe, manifesting specifically in more frequent feelings of sadness, nervousness, hopelessness, ‘everything being an effort,’ and worthlessness.

Conclusions. Food stamp enrollment harms mental health more than it benefits it, reaffirming previous literature that identified this effect. We hypothesize that either logistical barriers to accessing the program and stigma from oneself and others contribute to this, creating costs that are unnecessary, suggesting that program reform and/or changing cultural narratives can remedy this implicit tax on the poor.

Included in

Food Security Commons