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Eat (and Drink) Better Tonight: Food Stamp Benefit Timing and Drunk Driving Fatalities

February 2017

Chad Cotti, John M. Gordanier, Orgul D. Ozturk


The authors set out to investigate whether or not there is a correlation between alcohol related accidents and the timing of food stamp distribution. Using state food stamp distribution dates, enrollment numbers, and weekday alcohol related accidents the authors hypothesized that the distribution of food stamps does have an effect on accidents. Weekends were excluded due to the reasons that alcohol related accidents are more likely to increase regardless of demographic lines. The authors attribute this decline to the “same-day effect.” This is that recipients of food stamps are more likely to stay at home and eat on distribution days

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Policy Implications

These findings may encourage policymakers to shift welfare distribution dates to combat alcohol related incidents. They also provide a number of new questions for policymakers. Does the stress of relying on welfare payments, stretched budgets, and low salaries have an effect on alcoholism or alcohol abuse? These questions can help construct a better understanding of how to help those who are in the most need of assistance.

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