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Abstract

This research seeks to understand the role of information, in the form of media campaigns, and changes in transaction costs, in the form of online applications and call centers, in the growth in county-level SNAP caseloads. We find that SNAP radio advertisements are associated with a small increase in the SNAP caseload, though the magnitude of the estimates are sensitive to the econometric specification. The SNAP television ads, which were run only in 2006, are negatively correlated with caseloads. We find evidence of endogeneity in the placement of the advertising campaigns, leading to a positive bias in the estimated effect of the radio ad campaigns and a negative bias in the estimated effect of the TV ad campaigns. We also find the modernization policies are generally negatively correlated with caseloads, suggesting that providing information via the web and call centers did not successfully lower transaction costs in a uniform way that lead to higher SNAP participation.

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