Abstract

In this paper, we study the effects of the timing of nutritional aid disbursement on crime, using two main sources of variation: (a) a policy change in Illinois that substantially increased the number of SNAP distribution days and (b) an existing Indiana policy that issues SNAP benefits by last name. We find that staggering SNAP benefits leads to large reductions in crime and theft at grocery stores by 17.5% and 20.9%, respectively. Findings also show that theft decreases in the second and third weeks following receipt but increases in the last week of the benefit cycle due to resource constraints.

Supplementary data

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