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Meal Planning

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grocery Store

Prior to February 2010, Illinois delivered food stamps on the first day of every month. Then the state decided to spread distribution more evenly throughout the month. As a result, stores weren't hit with massive crowds all at once and officials weren't burdened with a large workload. New research from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and Miami University featured in Business Insider suggests there could be another benefit of the change: a reduction in grocery store thefts.

“Previous work on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has documented that participants increase food consumption right after benefit receipt, and subsequently reduce consumption throughout the month,” says Jillian Carr, assistant professor of economics at the Krannert School. She coauthored the paper, titled “SNAP Benefits and Crime: Evidence from Changing Disbursement Schedules,” with Analisa Packham, an assistant professor of economics at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.

“Such consumption patterns have the potential to affect incentives for criminal behavior both at the beginning of the month, when economic activity increases, and at the end of the month, when resources within low-income communities are limited,” Carr says.

“In this paper, we find that staggering SNAP benefit issuance over multiple days of the month leads to a 32 percent decrease in grocery store theft and reduces monthly cyclicality in crime at grocery stores. Findings also show that criminal behavior decreases in the second and third weeks following receipt, but increases in the last week of the benefit cycle, potentially due to resource constraints.” 

Read more at and download a PDF of the study, “SNAP Benefits and Crime: Evidence from Changing Disbursement Schedules,” at