Our research project addressed the question of how well SNAP and the social safety net protects families against the risk of food insecurity and poor health during economic downturns. Previous research has documented the relationship between reductions in family incomes and food insufficiency and has examined the effects of resources that mitigate the effects of income volatility. The U.S. social safety net, including SNAP, exists to mitigate the deleterious effects of swings in family income, particularly among low- and moderate-income households. This work compares outcomes for lower income families and higher income families in response to economic downturns. To the extent that nutritional, food security and food-related health outcomes are unaffected by economic downturns, there is implicit evidence that the social safety net is working to protect economically disadvantaged families.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2017-05

Notes/Citation Information

This project was supported with a grant from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research through funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service and the Food and Nutrition Service, Agreement Number 58-5000-3-0066. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policies of the sponsoring agencies.