Employed in a SNAP? The Impact of Work Requirements on Program Participation and Labor Supply

Work requirements are common in many U.S. safety net programs. Evidence remains limited, however, on the extent to which work requirements increase economic self-sufficiency or screen out vulnerable individuals. Using linked administrative data on food stamps (SNAP) and earnings with a regression discontinuity design, we find that work requirements reduce SNAP participation by 52 percent. Very low-income and homeless adults are disproportionately screened out. We statistically rule out employment increases of more than 2 percentage points. We find evidence of increased earnings near a key eligibility threshold, and provide conditions under which this trade-off is efficient.