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Abstract

This study examines the degree to which changes in entry and exit patterns into and out of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) contributed to the FSP caseload growth of the early 1990s and to the decline of the late 1990s. A rise in the FSP entry rate was the driving force behind caseload growth in the early 1990s. However, individuals tended to stay longer in the FSP during this period than at other points of the 1990s, which also contributed to the growth. Caseload decline of the late 1990s was driven predominantly by shorter participation length, although lower entry rates also contributed. The entry rate for single mothers remained relatively constant over the 1990s, but participation length declined in the late 1990s. Despite eligibility restrictions in the late 1990s, the entry rate for noncitizens also remained fairly constant.While the entry rate for able-bodied adults fell after time limits were imposed in the mid- 1990s, their participation length appeared unaffected by these limits, which may reflect the tendency for able-bodied adults to have short participation spells even without time limits. Among all new entrants in the FSP in the 1990s, more than half exited the program within 8 months and two-thirds exited within 1 year. Among individuals participating in the FSP for longer than 1 year, the typical participation length declined over the 1990s.

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