Administrative Burden and Procedural Denials: Experimental Evidence from SNAP

Eric Giannella, Tatiana Homonoff, Gwen Rino, and Jason Somerville
Revise and resubmit at American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Many government program applications result in procedural denials due to administrative burdens associated with applying. We identify the intake interview as a key barrier to take-up of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and study the effect of an alternative application process designed to reduce burdens.  Using a field experiment involving 65,000 Los Angeles applicants, we find that access to flexible interviews initiated by the applicant increases approvals by six percentage points, doubles early approvals, and increases long-term participation by over two percentage points. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating flexibility when designing program integrity policies in order to minimize procedural denials.

Wagner Faculty