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Jessie Handbury, PhD│Health Policy and CHIBE Research Seminar

May 02, 2024

| 12:00 pm ‐ 1:00 pm | Hybrid
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  • Jessie Handbury, PhD — Gilbert and Shelley Harrison Associate Professor of Real Estate, The Wharton School , University of Pennsylvania


Blockley Hall
1104 Blockley Hall
423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Event Description

Attendees may attend virtually. Zoom link here.

“Welfare Implications of Increased Retailer Participation in SNAP” with Anne Byrne, Xiao Dong, Erik James, and Katherine Meckel

Governments generally rely on private vendors to distribute in-kind benefits. The types of vendors that participate can affect beneficiaries, local markets, and program costs. We study the effects of a dramatic increase in the number of food stores accepting SNAP benefits during the Great Recession. To do so, we combine several datasets: administrative records on all SNAP stores, information on all food stores in the U.S., a large household purchasing panel, and a panel of retailer transaction records. We find that the new SNAP stores are largely non-grocer stores that carry limited fresh inventory. The increase in store participation resulted in modest declines in distance to SNAP stores among SNAP-eligible households (a proxy for the cost of access). SNAP-eligible households shift a small share of their food expenditures to the new SNAP retailers, while there is no change for non-SNAP households. Despite small effects for SNAP households, participating in SNAP results in important increases in food sales for vendors. They shift their perishable inventory toward staple foods. Our evidence suggests that proposed restrictions on non-grocer participation in SNAP are unlikely to improve nutrition among beneficiaries.

Jessie Handbury is the Gilbert and Shelley Harrison Associate Professor of Real Estate at The Wharton School and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Handbury’s research studies the interplay between spatial and socio-economic inequality, with a focus on the spatial distribution of retail amenities. Her papers have been published in such journals as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Econometrica, the Review of Economic Studies, and the Journal of Urban Economics and has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and the Washington Post. Some of Handbury’s recent research studies the role of e-commerce and dollar stores in mediating the welfare impact of the decline in brick-and-mortar retail; measures preferences for social interactions using smartphone data; and considers the long-run impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on residential sorting in cities.  She holds a B.A. in economics and mathematics and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics, all from Columbia University.


CHIBE, Health Policy