How Public Program Participants Become Disconnected: The Role of Aging Out
Methods: Using the newly expanded comprehensive Wisconsin longitudinal administrative research dataset, we follow two comparable non-elderly SNAP family groups: 1) families whose youngest child was 17 (so-called a “youth”) in Wisconsin between 2001 and 2008, and 2) families including both a youth and additional younger child(ren) over 13. This paper documents and compares the extent that these two groups of families exit from TANF and MA when the youngest or the oldest child of these families turns 18 or 19 years old. This paper also investigates the effect of aging out of TANF and MA on the probability of being disconnected using multivariate probit regression analysis.
Results: Descriptive analysis comparing the patterns of program participation for families with a youth aging out, and families with a youth and additional younger children, demonstrates a significant effect of the age-based eligibility rules on exiting TANF and MA. Multivariate regression also suggests that aging out of TANF and MA increases the probability of exit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), which results in higher probability of disconnection for families with a youth compared to their counterparts.
Implications: This paper highlights a population at greater risk of becoming disconnected from public assistance programs due to aging out and the importance of SNAP as a connecting program over the pre-, during, and post-recession period. This research contributes to a better understanding of the risks and challenges that families in need face and suggests implications for policy and program responses.