Testing behavioral interventions designed to improve on-time SNAP recertification

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Leonard M. Lopoo
Colleen Heflin
Joseph Boskovski


SNAP recertification, Behavioral public policy, RCT, Administrative burden


We report results from a series of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) run between January 2019 and February 2020 testing behavioral interventions designed to increase the likelihood that SNAP recipients recertify on-time in Hennepin County, the most populous county in Minnesota. Given the different levels of governance and the abundance of qualifying rules and processes that low-income households must negotiate to obtain and retain SNAP food assistance benefits, many households may fail to recertify for SNAP. Administrative burden includes the difficulties created by having to learn deadlines and which forms constitute the proper paperwork necessary to recertify. In our main intervention, we test a three-armed study (n=23,756), comparing the efficacy of the Hennepin County SNAP recertification auto-dialer communication, a behaviorally-informed text message, and a third arm with both the Hennepin county autodialer and our text message, against a control group that did not receive any reminder at the beginning of the recertification month but did receive other standard written communications. Results from this trial show that the autodialer is not an effective reminder. However, the interventions with text messages are effective in improving recertification rates around five percent (p<0.01) over no additional message and around two percentage points (p<0.05) over the Hennepin County autodialer message currently being used. Text messaging appears to be particularly effective for SNAP recipients under the age of 60 with low to moderate levels of education.

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