Date / Time

12:00 pm 15/10/2019 -

1:00 pm 15/10/2019


The University of Melbourne, FBE Building (111 Barry Street), Room 605.


Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, Melbourne VIC, Australia

Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, Melbourne VIC, Australia


Registration is essential for catering purposes:


Many disadvantaged people in the United States, who appear to be eligible for means-tested food assistance on the basis of their incomes, do not receive assistance. Take-up of food assistance is especially low among poor working households, with millions of households “leaving money on the table” by not claiming benefits. Some of this take-up puzzle can be explained by mean-testing, which reduces people’s benefits and lowers the incentives to participate as they earn more.

A new book co-authored by Profs Peter Mueser, David C. Ribar, and Erdal Tekin and published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research shows that that explicit work requirements and extra procedures for working people to report their incomes and reapply for benefits are also an enormous detriment.

This Anti-Poverty Week presentation, co-sponsored by the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research and ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course, will focus on SNAP’s work requirements. Since 1996, SNAP has required non-elderly able-bodied adults without dependents to work or engage in work-readiness activities for at least 30 hours a week. People who fail to maintain this level of work activity are limited to three months of benefits in any three-year period. From time to time the work requirements have been relaxed or waived, and we examine how this affects program participation. We examine three U.S. states—Georgia, Missouri, and South Carolina—and find that SNAP participation is much lower and spells of participation are much shorter when the work requirements are in place.

The findings are timely as the Trump administration in the U.S. considers stronger work requirements for SNAP and is even allowing states to condition publicly-provided medical assistance on work. The findings also have lessons for Australia which has incorporated activity requirements into its Newstart program and moved many people from unconditional cash assistance to Newstart.