Use of informal safety nets during the supplemental nutrition assistance program benefit cycle: How poor families cope with within-month economic instability


Journal Article

© 2017 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved. Poor families often combine public benefits with social network and community resources to cope with economic instability. This study shows that decisions to combine formal and informal resources are as dynamic as the economic instability they are intended to buffer. Using survey data of poor families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Durham, North Carolina, this study takes advantage of the within-month economic instability created by the SNAP benefit cycle to show how families intentionally combine their formal and informal resources throughout a benefit month. Results show that families receiving SNAP benefits are more likely to borrow money for food 3 weeks after receiving SNAP benefits. Household food insecurity remains stable throughout the SNAP month, suggesting that this use of families’ informal social safety nets may effectively buffer against economic instability.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schenck-Fontaine, A; Gassman-Pines, A; Hill, Z

Published Date

  • September 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 91 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 456 - 487

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0037-7961

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/694091

Citation Source

  • Scopus