The Effects of Information and Application Assistance:Experimental Evidence from SNAP

IZA Logo

IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 24.04.2018, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Matthew J. Notowidigdo (Northwestern University)


This paper develops a framework for evaluating the welfare impact of various interventions designed to increase take-up of social safety net programs in the presence of potential behavioral biases. We then calibrate key parameters using a randomized field experiment in which 30,000 elderly individuals not enrolled in - but likely eligible for - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are either provided with information that they are likely eligible or provided with this information and also offered assistance in applying; a "status quo" control group receives no contact. Only 6 percent of the control group enrolls in SNAP over the next 9 months, compared to 11 percent of the Information Only group and 18 percent of the Information Plus Assistance group. The individuals who apply or enroll in response to either intervention receive lower beneffits and are less sick than the average enrollee in the control group. Despite the poor targeting properties of the interventions, our rough calculations suggest that they are nonetheless a cost-effective way to redistribute to low-income individuals relative to other safety net programs.

Download complete paper   
For more information, please contact