Hilary Hoynes: Is the Social Safety Net a Long-Term Investment? Large-Scale Evidence from the Food Stamps Program


Monday, May 6, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Malkin Penthouse (Littauer 4th floor)

Hilary Hoynes, Professor of Public Policy and Economics and Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities, University of California, Berkeley.

Hilary Hoynes

We use novel large-scale data on 43 million Americans from the 2000 Census and the 2001 to 2013 American Communities Survey linked to the Social Security Administration’s NUMIDENT to study how a policy-driven increase in economic resources for families affects children’s long-term outcomes.

Using variation from the county-level roll-out of the Food Stamps program between 1961 and 1975, we find that children with access to greater economic resources before age five experienced an increase of 6 percent of a standard deviation in their adult human capital, 3 percent of a standard deviation in their adult economic self-sufficiency, 8 percent of a standard deviation in the quality of their adult neighborhoods, 0.4 percentage point increase in longevity, and a 0.5 percentage point decrease in likelihood of being incarcerated.

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About the speaker

Hilary Hoynes is a Professor of Public Policy and Economics and holds the Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities at the University of California Berkeley where she also co-directs the Berkeley Opportunity Lab.

She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists. She has served as Co-Editor of the American Economic Review and the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and is on the editorial board of the American Economic Review: Insights.

Professor Hoynes currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Building an Agenda to Reduce the Number of Children in Poverty by Half in 10 Years, the American Economic Association’s Executive Committee, and the State of California Task Force on Lifting Children and Families out of Poverty.

Previously, she was a member of the Federal Commission on Evidence-Based Policy Making, the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation, Directorate for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and the National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program.

Her research focuses on poverty, inequality, food and nutrition programs, and the impacts of government tax and transfer programs on low income families. Current projects include evaluating the effects of access to the social safety net in early life on later life health and human capital outcomes, examining the effects of the Great Recession on poverty, and the role of the safety net in mitigating income losses.

In 2014, she received the Carolyn Shaw Bell Award from the Committee on the Status of the Economics Profession of the American Economic Association. 

Professor Hoynes received her PhD in Economics from Stanford University in 1992 and her undergraduate degree in Economics and Mathematics from Colby College in 1983.

Learn more about Hilary Hoynes's work




See also: Spring 2019