Who Belongs? EP 5 - Hilary Hoynes on the Benefits and Limitations of Food Stamps (SNAP)

Interview

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Download an MP3 of this interview.

In this episode of Who Belongs? Marc Abizeid talks to economist Hilary Hoynes about government assistance programs, including nutrition programs like SNAP, which is also known as food stamps, in addressing poverty and hunger in the United States. Hilary Hoynes teaches economics and public policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, and is the Chair of the Haas Institute's Economic Disparities Research Cluster. Professor Hoynes specializes in the study of poverty, inequality, and the impacts of government assistance programs like SNAP, and others, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a cash assistance program for low-wage earners.

For more on Hilary Hoynes' work on SNAP and other relevant resources check:

"Safety Net Investments in Children" (Working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research)
"Increasing SNAP purchasing power reduces food insecurity and improves child outcomes" (Brookings Institute)
"To Make America Richer, Help Poor Children" (New York Times)
"Verdict Is In: Food Stamps Put Poor Kids on Path to Success" (Bloomberg)
"Study suggests Trump is scaring immigrant families off food stamps" (Vox)
"What the Trump Administration's Latest Attack on Immigrants Means for Kids" (Education Week)
"Food Security Status of U.S. Households in 2017" (USDA)
"The End of Welfare as We Know It: America’s once-robust safety net is no more" (The Atlantic)

Soundtrack Credits:
Intro song: "Traction" by Chad Crouch
Outro song: "Wide Eyes" by Chad Crouch

 

Interview Transcript

Marc Abizeid: Hello and welcome to this episode of Who Belongs? Who Belongs? is a podcast we recently launched at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, where we discuss issues related to social inequity and the systems that drive them. My name is Marc Abizeid, one of the hosts of Who Belongs? In a previous episode of Who Belongs? we discussed the issue of hunger on a global scale due to the manipulation of international food prices by a handful of powerful agribusiness firms. In this episode we're again going to touch on hunger but at a more local level by looking at government assistance programs, including nutrition programs like SNAP, which is also known as food stamps, for low-income people in the United States.

To discuss this topic we have the privilege of speaking with Hilary Hoynes, who is a renowned economist here at UC Berkeley and the Chair of the Haas Institute's Economic Disparities Research Cluster. Professor Hoynes specializes in the study of poverty, inequality, and the impacts of government assistance programs like SNAP, and others, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a cash assistance program for low-wage earners. Welcome to Who Belongs?, Hilary Hoynes.

Hilary Hoynes: Thank you very much. It's great to be here.

Marc Abizeid: Let's start off by looking at the problems that some of these programs are trying to address, which are poverty and hunger. I just want to mention a figure I pulled from the website at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which says last year, in 2017, it calculated that 40 million people including 6.5 million children live in households that were experiencing food insecurity, meaning at some point during that year those households didn't have either the food or the money to be able to provide nutritious food for the people who live in those households. So, 40 million people is a striking figure, especially for a country that produces so much waste, and that produces enough food to, theoretically, feed everybody. So, can you tell us a little bit about the role of SNAP in addressing this program, what exactly it does and who the main beneficiaries are.

Hilary Hoynes: Sure. So, food insecurity just to start with that is something that we've only measured in the relatively recent period in the United States, and it's actually a kind of a complex set of questions that households are asked to determine food insecurity. As you point out it's certainly a marker of having insufficient access to food. It's a remarkably large number of Americans, actually a very similar number as the number of Americans that are poor in America, so there is a very striking, steep relationship between poverty and hunger, as you point out. They very much go hand-in-hand in the United States.

So, the USDA has several food and nutrition programs that are aimed at centrally reducing food insecurity, and by far SNAP, or food stamps, is the biggest of those programs. What is just tremendously powerful about SNAP, and is actually quite unique among the full range of social safety net programs in America, is that it is the closest thing we have to a universal benefit for low-income families in America. So, for example, you have to be poor to receive food stamps, or SNAP and, in particular, your income needs to be below 130% of the poverty line. In addition to that you also need to have assets that are not above a certain number. But, after that those are the main criteria for eligibility for food stamps. What's unique about that, compared to the rest of the social safety net ... I mean, that statement isn't exactly correct. I'll fill that in in just a second, but compared to all other elements of the social safety net it's very universal across different groups.

For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit, which you mentioned earlier, is a program that is very targeted at working folks with children, and so there's a lot of folks who don't get that, working low-earning folks without children, for example, are not eligible. So, food stamps has a central role in reducing food insecurity, and more than that is what I like to consider the fundamental safety net in America, because it's not just for the elderly, or just for the disabled, or just for families with children, which is a common sort of set of three groups that tend to receive more access to benefits than others, and that's a really critical, important feature.

Then, finally, probably the thing that has been studied the most with respect to food stamps is does it reduce food insecurity? The answer is a sort of resounding "yes." Regardless of whether we're looking at today, or 10 years ago, or different kinds of statistical approaches to try to answer that question, very robust, consistent, and important finding is that, indeed, those statistics that you cited about USDA would show even much greater food insecurity if food stamps was not available.

Marc Abizeid: Okay, but even with food stamps we still have that striking 40 million figure, and other figures, so there are some limitations to SNAP. Over the summer you had some research published that looked actually at different purchasing power of SNAP vouchers depending on where you live, because across most of the United States, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, people received the same amount of food stamp voucher based on their income, so even if they're living in a region like California, or the East Coast where food prices are high, the amount they receive is gonna be the same for someone living somewhere where food prices are much lower. So, the people living in those low-price regions their purchasing power is going to be higher than places like here, like California. So, you have a kind of a recommendation to adjust the price, adjust the amount that these vouchers provide for people who are recipients of food stamps. So, can you talk a little bit about that?

Hilary Hoynes: Right. I mean, it's interesting, the United States is a big country. There's incredible geographic variation in the cost of living. As we know, here where we live housing is very expensive, food is much more expensive, and so on. But, interestingly the food stamp program, throughout its history, has been a Federal program that essentially doesn't vary at all across areas. Surprisingly, this is something that has not gotten a huge amount of attention in terms of policy recommendations, or even research. We sort of saw the variation in food prices as, it's not good for people but it's good for the research in order to try to take advantage of varying purchasing power across area in order to evaluate what food stamps does. To mention a statistical matter it's rather hard to evaluate what a program does if it doesn't vary across space, and doesn't vary across time, and is fairly universal, as I already mentioned. It's actually quite challenging to do sort of frontier social science research on food stamps because of that.

So, we basically took advantage of the fact that food stamps was constant across areas yet the price differs in order to evaluate the effect of SNAP on outcomes. But, you're absolutely right that a very natural recommendation that comes out of our work, and something that we sort of promoted recently through the Hamilton Project is the idea that perhaps the food stamp benefit should reflect the local cost of living more than it does today, which is to say not at all.

Marc Abizeid: Can you talk a little bit about the implica-, because this has implications for people who have less purchasing power. You write in one of the essays, I think, that summarizes the findings of the Hamilton Paper, of the research that you did, that a 10% increase in SNAP purchasing power increases the likelihood of a child to receive annual checkups by about 8%, and then on the issue of food security the same thing, that a rise in purchasing power by 10% can reduce food insecurity by up to about 22%. So, that seems quite significant.

Hilary Hoynes: Right. So, the results that we find for food insecurity are fairly consistent with the many studies that ask how does food stamps affect food insecurity? We just sort of get to it through a somewhat different door than others have. It is striking. It's an important finding, but there's less new about our finding than what others have done, but what is more new in our paper is that we look beyond just food insecurity and look at other measures of sort of how the family is doing.

The things that are the most striking and robust in our findings in that work is that greater SNAP purchasing power leads to, as you pointed out, more compliance with regular checkups, like children are supposed to get at the doctor, and the other feature that's very robust in our findings is higher rates of attendance at school.

We looked at many other health outcomes and we find nothing statistically significant on other health outcomes. We're trying to make sense of those findings. It doesn't seem that there's a consistent set of findings that more SNAP purchasing power leads to better health. It may be that both going to the doctor for regular check ups and attending school more often is more consistent with not a change in health per se but sort of less stress in the household because of having a bit more resources that sort of allows the families to be able to sort of be following the guidelines they should be for their children, getting to school as much as they can, getting to the doctor, and so on.

This is sometimes talked about in the research as band-width poverty, that is there's more-and-more evidence that the very real situation of being poor in America leads to such taxing of the brain to think about those next bills that are due, and the stresses of eviction, and environmental hazards, and fear, and danger that is around in the neighborhood, other sorts of things that are correlated with this in America, and that that can make it very hard to keep up with everything one needs to do. It's a little bit unclear exactly what mechanistically is behind those findings, but those are the sort of the consistent findings in that work.

Marc Abizeid: That actually sounds very similar to some of the findings that we put out a paper a couple months ago during the rent control debates that looked at people who were experiencing housing insecurity. A lot of impacts they were affecting people's mental health, both mental and physical, because there were all kinds of implications that went along with not being able to afford rent in places where you work, in your communities where if you're being pushed out of your community, so it affects you in all sorts of ways. It sounds like it's similar here as far as the-

Hilary Hoynes: I think you're right. That's a good connection to make.

Marc Abizeid: But, one thing I understood from ... First of all, the argument, I think, is very compelling that people should have more purchasing power as far as SNAP. But, one thing I understood from this proposal to adjust the amount of purchasing price, the purchasing power of a voucher, is that while increasing the power for some people that's gonna be decreasing the purchasing power for other people. The problem I see there is that even the people who live in relatively lower cost areas, I mean they're still not doing good either.

Hilary Hoynes: Right.

Marc Abizeid: A lot of these people ... The paper pointed out that they are only still covering like 85% of something, I forgot what it was called exactly, but it was the ability to purchase nutritious food or something.

Hilary Hoynes: Exactly. A thrifty Food Plan.

Marc Abizeid: Thrifty Food Plan, right, exactly. These people, they're not gonna be doing as well off, and they're not already doing good. So, the question I think a lot of listeners might have is like, "Well, fine, why don't you just increase, adjust it but then just increase the amount you spend overall."

Hilary Hoynes: I think that even absent the discussion about whether we should allow the benefit to vary across place reflecting the cost of living, there are very principled arguments that people have been making for some time that the benefit level is out of sync with what it does cost to create nutritious food. If you look at the changes in the prices of food over time in the United States, and really around the world, essentially good food has become much more expensive and bad food is not rising in cost nearly as quickly. So, you can imagine the natural implication of that on a kind of fixed food budget, and the challenge of trying to continue to purchase a nutritious food diet.

So, there has been a quite strong movement for some time arguing that SNAP is inadequate at its current level across the board. So, I think that ... Politically I think it would be very difficult to just implement a revenue-neutral change. I mean, I'm not a policy maker, I'm a scholar, but it seems it would be very difficult to implement a policy-neutral change to SNAP where there are winners and losers, because it's both difficult to come to terms with but also difficult to implement. So, I think the natural thing to take place, if one were to build in variation in the generosity of SNAP based on local prices, is you would do it as part of a leveling up. You would take account of the fact that the formula is somewhat outdated with current cost of nutritious foods; raise the formula and add the price variation in one go, and so there would be no losers, per see. Now, that would, of course, cost more money but maybe we can get to some of the longer-term benefits of SNAP.

Marc Abizeid: One of the things I was ... Well, the essay, I mean, it notes that there's an institutional barrier to this, which is ... This is from the essay. It says that, "The current legislation prohibits the value of the benefits of SNAP from falling below the level in October 1996." So, what I was suggesting is why not just, the government just, put more money into SNAP.

Hilary Hoynes: Right.

Marc Abizeid: But, something happened in 1996 which is preventing that. I think it was referring to the Welfare Reform Act.

Hilary Hoynes: What Welfare Reform did, very importantly, for SNAP was it, and this is just to complete the loop of something we were talking about earlier when I said that SNAP is very universally available. There are a couple of really important groups that are left out of SNAP. Undocumented families are not eligible for SNAP, and also if you're kind of able-bodied, not retirement age, and don't have children in the household your access to SNAP is time limited. First of all, I want to sort of get that out of way.

What happened in the Welfare Reform in 1996, was that certain groups of legal immigrants were restricted to have limited or no access to SNAP when they had had access before, and the ability to get SNAP varied with that new legislation depending on how many years ago that you entered the United States, and what that date was relative to the Welfare Reform legislation, and those policy changes over about a 5-10 year period, through subsequent changes in the Farm Bill were sort of undone and then redone again. At this point we're sort of back to where we were pre-1996.

Marc Abizeid: Do you have, off the top of your head, kind of statistics, or can you paint a general picture of what the situation was like pre-1996 as far as hunger, as far as people living with food insecurity versus what it is now?

Hilary Hoynes: Well, we actually didn't measure food insecurity that long ago. I know a lot about poverty rates and the other element that's really, really important in all of this is, and this is very important for SNAP, is that the vast ... It gets to a early question that you asked that I realize I never really answered and that is who is on SNAP, who receives SNAP in the United States. There is a sort of popular perception that people who are receiving SNAP are not engaged in the labor market, which is really quite untrue. Most of the SNAP recipients are either individuals who we wouldn't expect to work, like children, old folks, folks that are disabled, and the majority of the adults that don't fit in one of those categories are actually working.

What the critical element that's a huge driver of food insecurity and poverty in the United States has been stagnating wages. Over the last many decades, back to the mid 1970s, if you're a low-wage worker in America you earn less today than you did yesterday, the year before, 10 years before, 20 years before, other than small periods of wage growth. We're in the middle of a bit of period of age growth now. What that means is that folks that are playing by the American Compact that you work and you engage in society, through no fault of their own year after year have less earned income relative to the cost of living. So, the consequence of that is our social safety net now is more critical than ever to sort of top up earnings to sort of make families whole.

What you see is that the vast majority of say families with children who are on SNAP are in families where there's earned income, and that's a really important element to sort of like get a baseline read on. So, to answer your question, to get back to the period of the early 1990s, the folks that were on food stamps were more comprised of people who were out of work compared to people that are in work. Part of that is the great transformation of the social safety net that occurred in the 90s through Welfare Reform, as we talked about earlier which, essentially, very much restricted access to cash assistance, and the simultaneous expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which also acts to top up earned income. Those features very much sort of changed the landscape of the social safety net. So, one very important difference between the early 1990s and today is a lot more food stamp recipients are combining work with the supplement of food stamps, rather than say having some source of cash welfare income combined with food stamps.

Marc Abizeid: After Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act he was attacked by a lot of people on the Left, progressives, people who were working to combat poverty, to reduce poverty. People accused him of taking food out of the mouths of children. They used terms like that. I'm wondering if there has been any kind of serious proposals, or serious efforts, or talk about rolling back some of those, or at least changing some of the rules of the Welfare Reform by members of Congress who are a little bit more empathetic to people who can't work, who can't find jobs, to be able to get more people on food stamps? Or if that's something that's just a non-starter and-

Hilary Hoynes: Yeah. It's very interesting that you raised that, and I have a couple of thoughts to add to it, and one might maybe surprise you a little bit. The state of cash welfare assistance today is ... So Welfare Reform happened in 1996. Fast forward, here we are in 2018, and back on the eve of Welfare Reform 67 out of 100 children who lived in poor families got some cash assistance. Today, that number is below 30. So, there's really been a collapse of cash assistance as part of our social safety net. For some families the Earned Income Tax Credit has done a decent job of replacing that income, if you're able to get steady work that then is sort of subsidized and topped up by this Earned Income Tax Credit.

But, the research definitely shows that deep poverty is a much more vulnerable state in America right now, because really you have to have earnings to have your ticket to really getting the rest of the social safety net. If for whatever reason, because of intermittent work, difficulty of transportation, adverse labor markets, all these many things, if you don't have that steady work you don't get the rest of the social safety net which, I think there's many principled reasons that I could argue that it should be greater than it is, but the main point is it's a safety net very focused on work.

With that sort of background, to answer your question about is anybody talking about this? What I find really interesting about the current discussion is that; maybe this can be a topic of a future podcast, is I've recently written a paper on, just a think piece, on the Universal Basic Income. As someone who has like spent my 25 years as an academic studying the social safety net I'm very intrigued by current conversations about the value of a Universal Basic Income. What I find very interesting about that discussion is nobody is saying what you just said, that is if we're concerned about deep poverty and concerns about the lack of jobs, the answer that people are raising is not let's bring back cash welfare. They're instead bringing up these very much more expensive and more universal ideas around Universal Basic Income.

This is a topic for another day but Universal Basic Income is a very un-targeted program. By universal, what that means is that you get it if you're poor or you're not poor. It's a sort of fixed benefit that everybody gets, and that becomes very expensive, if you do the simple math of that. So, the discussions that seem to be coming up seem to be not thinking about working within the current social safety net. So, Kamala Harris just suggested a very large expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is great if you have earnings but, again, is missing the piece about what happens if you don't have earnings, either temporarily or over the longer term. In my opinion, that's where we really need to focus our policy expansions.

Marc Abizeid: The reason I bring that up is because, I may be wrong but, from what I understand is that one of the things that the Welfare Reform Act did was give more control to states to be able to control a lot of the cash that they receive and how they distribute it and designate who gets what and to what programs it goes to. A lot of states ... They can also adjust the criteria of who is eligible and who is not. Federally they have kind of standards, but then the states can then lower those standards. Some of them are really hostile towards poor people, and Arkansas being one of them. There are some statistics about how before, in 1995, about 40% of poor families were receiving cash assistance, and in 2014 that's down to ...

Hilary Hoynes: 11 or something like that?

Marc Abizeid: ... like 7 or something.

Hilary Hoynes: It's unbelievable. Right.

Marc Abizeid: Each state has different figures, but across the board it's down.

Hilary Hoynes: Right.

Marc Abizeid: The money's going somewhere else and poor people are struggling more than ever. These articles, they're kind of a human interest story where he talked to these people and it really kind of dispels this whole notion of people just being, welfare recipients being lazy. Real people are suffering. It seems like we can't really address that unless we remove some of those restrictions and then bring it back to how it was to be able to at least give people kind of a chance to get ahead.

Hilary Hoynes: Yeah, I agree. I've spent a lot of time analyzing, thinking about, and most recently, sort of revisiting Welfare Reform. Just to add to what you said, you're right, the critical element of Welfare Reform was this devolution of responsibility to states to be able to design the programs how they want to. At the same time, a really interesting and important element was that states received a set amount of money, called a Block Grant, regardless of whether there were 50,000 folks signing up for benefits or 10,000. It was a set Block Grant that's also fixed in nominal terms. More than 20 years has passed since 1996, and just changes in the cost of living have eroded that Block Grant by 30%.

So, fact number one is states have a lot less to work with. Fact number two is that the rules and regulations about this Block Grant and what valid uses of it were were so lax that states have enormous ability to use that Block Grant for almost anything they want. So, some examples. One state uses the majority of their welfare grant to fund a middle class college scholarship program, a very valid, quite reasonable policy, but very far from welfare. Another state uses their state block grant to fund a pre-K, a statewide pre-K program. Again, very valuable policy for a state to engage in, but not very close to welfare. So, the consequences, if you look across the states, even California, which has really been steadfast in trying to maintain as much of the old system as is possible, including putting in our own state resources to supplement the block grant; even California spends about 50% of its Block Grant on something that you and I would say is kind of welfare like, and the rest of it is spent on other things.

Hilary Hoynes: So, I think it would be very hard to turn back the clock on that short of just completely overturning that legislation, which I think is difficult which is, I think, how some people get to thinking we need to do something different rather than change the existing program.

Marc Abizeid: Let's talk about some of the stuff that's going on in the news right now. There's proposed changes to the immigration rules by the current administration through the Department of Homeland Security regarding who is eligible to stay here to get green cards and permanent resident status. One of the criteria they want to use is to broaden the definition of the so-called public charge to include immigrants that may have already, or later on may receive, government assistance programs like SNAP. In a recent interview you compared those proposed changes to the 1996 Welfare Act, what you talked about already a little bit of that, which tightened restrictions on immigrants. Can you elaborate about this proposed policy and implications of it?

Hilary Hoynes: So, the proposed policy is still in public review right now, and it's also a bit of a changing ... The actual specifics of it have changed over time. But, the general approach of the policy is to expand dramatically the ability to connect eligibility, as you say, for advancing in terms of immigration status for legal immigrants to expand the charge to look at connection to the social safety net. So, it's even more dramatic than you stated, and that is many families in America consist of mixed, they're mixed status families. The parents, or maybe the grandparents are not citizens but say the children or grandchildren are. So, I could live in a household with my daughter and my mother, and my daughter is a U.S. citizen and has full access to all elements of the social safety net just like anybody, but the grandmother, say, when the grandmother is going through the immigration process, could be held accountable for the legal access to the social safety net of her grandchild.

So, the way that the rule is written right now is written in a way that says, "and anyone in the household," through legal matters participating in the social safety net. It is absolutely true that the United States has had a public charge element of its immigration system for a long time, but it tends to have been written in the past in a quite extreme way, and we could debate whether this is good policy in and of itself, but the way the policy has been written to date is essentially to try to rule out bringing folks into the immigration system who are sort of fully reliant on the state. This is a very, very, very far cry from that.

The connection that I was making in the interview that you cited to the Welfare Reform legislation is a really important one, and that is what we learned in the 1996 Welfare Reform around that change in eligibility among legal immigrants that I told you about was that there was a massive amount of fear and what people termed a chilling effect of that policy change. So, what I mean by that is that the change in the policy that was in 1996, that affected just food stamps ended up meaning that families dis-enrolled from many programs because they were scared, and there was a lot of misinformation about what the rules were.

What people are finding on the ground today ... Nonprofits and community organizations are finding that households are dis-enrolling their children in programs, not just programs like SNAP, but Medicaid, nutrition program called WIC, which is very important for children up to age five, and other programs. That's, I think, really extremely concerning given everything we know about the benefits of what these programs do. I probably would do the same thing if I was in the position of these individuals, but that's the issue that I was raising.

Marc Abizeid: Right. I actually have a study here from about two weeks ago out of the Boston Medical Center's Children HealthWatch, which finds exactly that. I'm quoting here. It says that, "The study found that the participation in SNAP by immigrant families who have been in the United States for fewer than five years, and who are eligible, dropped by nearly 10% in the first half of 2018," and it goes on to cite all kinds of rhetorical data about why people are dropping out of these programs, even though they're eligible-

Hilary Hoynes: Even though they're eligible.

Marc Abizeid: Even though they're eligible, and even though none of these changes have occurred yet. They're just talking about them.

Hilary Hoynes: Exactly.

Marc Abizeid: So, it's creating a lot of fear ...

Hilary Hoynes: Absolutely.

Marc Abizeid: ... and it's kind of having the effect maybe that the people who are making these proposals in the administration were hoping for.

Hilary Hoynes: Yeah, I can't speak to that, but that certainly sounds right to me.

Marc Abizeid: The last thing I wanted to ask about is, it's on that point. The basis, I guess, for people who are against, who consider themselves maybe fiscally conservative, they're against government handout, what they call government handouts, in the form of support programs for lower income people, even though a lot of these people who are in Congress support things like Corporate Welfare, bailouts for banks, trillions of dollars that have gone to corporations, but when it comes to actually helping human beings and not corporations they're against that. But, if we put that aside and just focus on some of these programs, you say that even then it's not fiscally respons-, it's not economically, it doesn't make any sense, it's not smart to cut these programs from these people. Why is that?

Hilary Hoynes: So, one of the things that we're learning a lot about, and this is research that maybe has been going on for the last five, maybe 10 years at the most, is that we now are having a growing body of evidence that shows that not only does providing more SNAP reduce food insecurity today. That we've known for some time, but what we're learning is that providing more assistance, and there's work that looks at this through the lens of the food stamp program, also Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and some work on cash welfare. All consistently shows that if children have more protection through these programs, particularly when they're young, it seems maybe particularly up until sort of school-going age, that that has a dramatic effect on their life trajectory.

So, for example. We find that having more access to food stamps when children are young leads to a greater likelihood of graduating college, graduating high school, going to college, higher earnings in young adulthood, lower rates of incarceration among non-white men, better neighborhoods that folks live in in adulthood. So, if you were ... I was telling my mom about this study recently and she looked at me like, "Well, that's not surprising, like if you have more resources that's gonna send you on a better life trajectory." I said, "You're absolutely right, but we haven't really quantified this."

So, I think the way in which it's both smart policy and good for families is to recognize that, first of all, many of these families that are getting food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, and all the rest, again are sort of victims of this wage stagnation, which is not really their choice that that's going on, and having these benefits to supplement their income we're now learning also changes the life trajectory of the children, which itself yields great public benefits in the long run. That's the argument.

Marc Abizeid: And that was our conversation with Hilary Hoynes, who is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics here at UC Berkeley. She is also the Chair of the Haas Institute's Economic Disparities Research Cluster. We're gonna put links to some of Professor Hoynes' recent work on SNAP, as well as other resources related to our conversation today on our website at haasinstitute.berkeley.edu/whobelongs. Thank you for listening.