SNAP and Unemployment = Evidence of Effective Governance by Eric Keller

Apologies for the extreme Wonk Factor of this post.

There is a lot of feedback on the previous post talking about SNAP and Republicans.  To repeat, Republicans use the narrative that SNAP users are dependent, lazy, and unworthy of help.  Thus, politicians like Terry Frank, Chuck Fleischmann, and John Ragan wish to cut SNAP benefits to fund the tax cuts that primarily benefit the top 5% of all income earners (more on that later).  

One comment deserves a closer look - that my chart did not account for children growing up and leaving SNAP.  This is a nice counterargument.  I would say the number in the population would be small- but need to show it.  So I have two charts that compare apples to apples.  First, the SNAP participation population is compared to the unemployment rate in Anderson County- all data from the Federal Reserve Research site.

 Eric Keller

Eric Keller

Note the curves are very close in movement.  One glaring exception being in the mid-1990s.  Now we look at two populations, SNAP participants and those under the age of 18 in poverty.  

 Eric Keller

Eric Keller

Note the curves do not match- especially after the recession of 2009.  So it is safe to say there is a good correlation between Anderson County SNAP participation and Anderson County Unemployment while there is little to no correlation between SNAP and children in poverty.  Indeed, a quick correlation check shows the same thing.  Perfect correlation is 1 with 0 being no correlation and negative numbers mean they move opposite of each other.

 Eric Keller

Eric Keller

A lot of social science analysis to refute a good counterargument given by a reader.  This is an example of how social scientists approach analysis.  I do not claim that SNAP and Unemployment cause each other or are perfectly associated- merely that statistical evidence is strong for an association between the two.  Correlation is not causation.  But correlation shows a relationship exists and in the case, a good argument can be made that lower unemployment in Anderson County means less SNAP usage.  Good governance has that as a goal- help families in crisis so they may move out of crisis.  This evidence supports this claim.

Finally, another counterargument is the movement of singles out of SNAP participation due to loss of benefits.  That is a whole different blog and this argument actually strengthens the good governance argument since they may have left due to finding jobs. 

Conclusion remains.  Republicans are wrong in their misguided belief that all government is inefficient and social safety nets only create dependency.  The evidence clearly shows the effectiveness of good government.

Eric KellerComment