First of two articles.
The recent partial government shutdown could have been a disaster for the 38 million Americans who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
But the United States Department of Agriculture, which runs SNAP, saved the day. Along with their usual January benefits, SNAP’s users received an extra payment on Jan. 20 — the one they were supposed to get in February.
This outcome was a product of heroic bureaucratic wrangling on the part of the Agriculture Department and the states, which administer SNAP. It saved millions of people from a month of severe hunger.
But the early money has a downside. “If I’ve got five bucks extra, my pocket wants to burn it,” said Katie Stoneman, a 31-year-old divorced mother who lives in the countryside near Elsie, Mich. “It’s human nature to see a large number and be more inclined to spend that,” said Jeff Kaiser, the chief operating officer of Propel, which makes an app called Fresh EBT to help people manage their SNAP benefits.
Ms. Stoneman has children ages 5 and 9, and for the last three years has received SNAP even while working in a pontoon boat factory. “It didn’t pay enough to get me off of SNAP,” she said. “Not even close.”
SNAP pays 2 a month for her family (about per person per day), and she usually makes it last three weeks, she said — longer than many people. A study by Duke University’s Common Cents Lab, which applies behavioral science to the problems of low-income people, found that 80 percent of benefits get spent in the first nine days. “When you give people and they really need , there’s only so much coping and budgeting they can do,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director of the Food Research & Action Center, a nonprofit that addresses poverty-related hunger.
Bad things happen when SNAP money runs out. Families eat less in the fourth week of the SNAP cycle. The food they eat is not as healthy. Children’s test scores suffer. Emergency room admissions for high blood pressure increase.
Worse, 13 million people who are eligible for SNAP benefits don’t get them. Half of all applications started aren’t finished. It could be that the forms — 30 pages or more — can overwhelm candidates. Or people simply forget to submit documents or schedule an interview.
Goods and services aimed at low-income people, who have very little clout when they complain, are known for indifferent customer service (a long-distance bus, for example). Dealing with the government can be even worse, because it is a monopoly provider with little incentive to do better.
The problem may be more than government indifference, said Josh Wright, executive director of Ideas42, which uses behavioral science to study and design public policies. “Some states — let’s be realistic: They don’t want it to be easier,” he said.
Signing up for SNAP, getting a shelter bed, going to housing court or getting out of jail after an arrest can involve considerable amounts of frustration, confusion and disrespect. And it’s often said that being poor is expensive. Late fees, money-transfer fees, check-cashing fees, exorbitant interest, reconnection fees and overdraft fees all add up to poor people spending proportionally more on financial services than wealthier people.
Technology can provide solutions to obstacles:
Systems don’t take human nature into account.
The early SNAP payment did, in fact, set off a flood of early spending. Communications about the early payment weren’t very good; many beneficiaries might have thought that the money was extra, or that their benefits card wouldn’t work in February. Mr. Kaiser gave an example from Vermont, which normally deposits benefits on the first of the month: The average balance on Feb. 3 was , compared with 5 on Jan. 3.
But not for Ms. Stoneman. She was relieved when she learned February benefits were coming, despite the shutdown. But she knew she had to be careful. “I might go too far on buying groceries and not be able to be prepared for next month,” she said. “My kids have birthdays next month, and I want to be able to make a cake.”
Then Ms. Stoneman got a message on her Fresh EBT app: “Want help budgeting your February benefits? Hide some of your benefits from your balance to help you budget. You can still spend your full amount any time.”
She eagerly signed up. “I knew I needed to set this aside and not spend it,” she said.
Others didn’t manage it. Mr. Kaiser said that a third of Fresh EBT users’ benefits had already been spent by Feb 1. (He said the company doesn't know yet whether the "hide my benefits" tool helped.) In mid-January, he said, Propel went to Full Cart, which ships free meal kits as a part of the organization Feeding Children Everywhere, offering to raise the money to pay for at least half a million meals for the end of February. They have so far raised a quarter of the needed funds, he said.
In normal months, most people with Fresh EBT use it to check their balance. Before the app, they had to buy something, creating what Mr. Kaiser calls the “balance banana.” Or they had to call an 800 number. “That took 10 or 15 minutes,” Ms. Stoneman said. “The app is better. I’m on it every day.”
As it did with hiding benefits, Fresh EBT uses behavioral science in other ways. The Common Cents Lab compared two ways Fresh EBT shows people their balances. Half saw only their normal whole-month balance, while the other half also saw a “recommended weekly budget” equal to a quarter of the monthly sum. That worked. People made their monthly benefits last for six extra meals.
We are stressed and forget things.
Here’s an absurdly cost-effective way that technology can keep people out of jail. In New York City, 41 percent of people given a ticket for a violation like littering or public drinking fail to appear at their court hearing.
They’re not skipping town. They fail to appear because they can’t take off work, or they just forget. So Ideas42 and the University of Chicago Crime Lab studied two simple solutions. First, they redesigned a summons form that had been truly incomprehensible. Now “Show up in court” with the date, and “To avoid a warrant for your arrest, you must show up to court” are in bold letters near the top. (Duh!) That simple change reduced no-shows to 36 percent.
Then they tried various text message reminders. The most effective was: “Helpful reminder: go to court Mon Jun 03 9:30AM. We’ll text to help you remember. Show up to avoid an arrest warrant.” That reduced no-shows to 26 percent — at less than a penny per text.
Common Cents Lab, along with the Benefits Data Trust and Robin Hood, New York City’s largest antipoverty organization, tried a similar experiment with SNAP recertification. They texted people reminders about deadlines, necessary documents and where to get help. That improved recertification rates by 5.5 percentage points.
There are many such email or text reminder programs. Mr. Wright said these are relatively easy to test and many have rigorous evidence of success. And these organizing nudges matter. “If you’re high income, you’re likely to have one paycheck,” said Mariel Beasley, a co-director of Common Cents Lab. “Low- and moderate-income households are often balancing benefits, multiple part-time jobs, child support and money from friends and family, all coming in at different times.”
In addition, new research shows that living with scarcity imposes a tax on our attention span equivalent to going a night without sleep. “If you didn’t sleep, how do you remember all the things you need to do?” said Ms. Beasley. “Tech is a way that allows low-cost organization in our lives.”
Complexity tilts the playing field.
Faced with a 30-page form in bureaucratese, many people would never even get started. But software can ask people questions in plain language and fill in the forms automatically. This is the idea behind online legal forms: Ordinary people can create forms so they can represent themselves, even if they don’t understand the law.
We don’t even sign up.
In 2016, Code for America introduced an app called Clear My Record, which makes it much easier for people to expunge criminal convictions, which can be a lifelong burden. But people with convictions still had to learn about the service, fill out forms, talk to lawyers and wait. About 8,000 people have used it in the California counties where it works.
But why even make people apply? Last year, Code for America began a trial of an automatic version: Governments link the app with their criminal records data. It checks for eligible convictions, fills out forms and sends them to the court for expungement. San Francisco is now trying it to clear marijuana convictions.
The financial system exploits us.
Millions of Americans take out payday loans. The average user takes eight loans of 5 each year, paying 0 in interest.
Payday loans often get people through unexpected crises when their car breaks down or someone is sick. But at that average frequency, many people must also be covering rent and groceries, and using some of the loans to cover other loans.
As abusive as they are, payday loans exist because people need them. Part of the problem is the very concept of payday, which is essentially a short-term loan from worker to employer. If you work today, what you earn should be yours today.
Technology can help overcome some of these obstacles. Now employees can borrow from themselves — instantly, in many cases. Apps like Even, PayActiv and DailyPay allow workers to get access to pay they’ve earned, but haven’t received yet. Some apps charge a few dollars per month or per transaction. At least one app, Earnin, asks you to pay whatever you think is right.
Many apps help with budgeting in other ways. Earnin will automatically send money to your bank account when you’re in danger of an overdraft. The Even app identifies recurring bills and sets aside money from your paycheck to cover them. The “Okay to Spend” feature then tells you how much you have left over. Even can also automatically put money into savings.
Employees can use some of these apps on their own, but employers also offer them; Uber, Lyft and Walmart, for example, offer instant pay. These apps reduce employee turnover. And when employees aren’t stressing about bills, they can focus on their jobs.
Of course, employers could also accomplish these things by raising wages. “Technology is not a substitute for good public policy,” said Ms. Vollinger, of the food research group.
Still, technology aimed at low-income people can make their lives much easier. It’s a shame, then, that there’s so little of it.
Next week, I’ll look at the numerous obstacles to creating tech that focuses on social impact, and how those difficulties can be overcome.
Tina Rosenberg won a Pulitzer Prize for her book “The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts After Communism.” She is a former editorial writer for The Times and the author, most recently, of “Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World” and the World War II spy story e-book “D for Deception.”
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独家心水是什么动物【眼】【看】【着】【雄】【哥】【的】【枪】【口】【已】【经】【对】【准】【了】【贾】【儒】，【下】【一】【秒】【钟】【雄】【哥】【扣】【动】**【就】【能】【干】【掉】【贾】【儒】【了】，【可】【是】【却】【看】【见】【贾】【儒】【的】【身】【影】【一】【晃】，【直】【接】【避】【开】【了】【雄】【哥】【的】【枪】【口】。 【伴】【随】【着】【旁】【边】【雄】【哥】【手】【下】【的】【惊】【呼】，【雄】【哥】【直】【接】【扣】【动】**。 【砰】【的】【一】【声】，【黑】【洞】【洞】【的】【枪】**【出】【子】【弹】，【直】【接】【打】【向】【前】【方】，【但】【是】【却】【没】【有】【贾】【儒】【的】【身】【影】。 【雄】【哥】【愣】【了】【一】【下】，【按】【照】【他】【的】【理】【解】【他】【对】【着】【贾】【儒】【开】【枪】
【而】【之】【前】，【也】【听】【席】【少】【提】【过】，【古】【毒】【在】【法】【国】【的】【势】【力】，【据】【说】，【其】【实】【是】【一】【老】【人】【一】【直】【在】【打】【理】。 【她】【一】【惊】，【这】【么】【说】【来】，【敢】【情】【自】【己】【这】【是】【进】【到】【古】【毒】【的】【老】【窝】【了】？ 【嗯】，【如】【果】【是】【这】【样】【的】【话】，【倒】【还】【能】【解】【释】【刚】【刚】【那】【些】【人】【变】【态】【的】【行】【为】【了】。 【不】【过】，【这】【老】【人】【居】【然】【是】【古】【爸】【的】【父】【亲】，【那】【么】，【也】【就】【是】【古】【毒】【真】【正】【的】【幕】【后】【老】【大】？ 【挺】【慈】【祥】【的】【吗】？【怎】【么】【会】【被】【外】【界】
【苏】【安】【希】【吐】【槽】【够】【了】【后】，【才】【慢】【悠】【悠】【地】【拿】【起】【手】【机】，【给】【她】【哥】【回】【了】【一】【句】。 “【好】【找】【吗】？【你】【觉】【得】【男】【人】【像】【大】【白】【菜】【一】【样】，【想】【怎】【么】【挑】【就】【怎】【么】【挑】【啊】，【而】【且】【还】【特】【便】【宜】【的】【那】【种】【吗】？” “【苏】【大】【爷】，【你】【知】【不】【知】【道】，【你】【妹】【我】【追】【一】【个】【臭】【男】【人】【都】【够】【我】【受】【的】【了】，【还】【是】【好】【不】【容】【易】【物】【色】【到】【的】【美】【男】【子】，【哪】【能】【放】【过】。” 【西】【红】【柿】：【要】【不】，【妹】，【哥】【哥】【帮】【你】【揍】【他】，【揍】【到】
【苦】【桥】【的】【大】【厅】【里】【四】【溢】【着】【烤】【肉】【和】【刚】【出】【炉】【的】【面】【包】【所】【散】【发】【的】【香】【味】，【充】【满】【杯】【碟】【碰】【撞】【和】【酩】【酊】【交】【谈】【的】【喧】【嚣】，【让】【人】【根】【本】【听】【不】【清】【歌】【手】【们】【高】【唱】【的】【歌】【谣】。 【这】【场】【宴】【会】【即】【是】【为】【了】【庆】【祝】【高】【庭】【重】【归】【铁】【王】【座】【治】【下】，【高】【庭】【公】【爵】【终】【于】【答】【应】【宣】【誓】【效】【忠】【乔】【佛】【里】【国】【王】。 【也】【是】【为】【了】【欢】【送】【财】【政】【大】【臣】，【他】【终】【于】【完】【成】【了】【使】【命】，【要】【回】【君】【临】【复】【命】。 【比】【起】【上】【一】【次】【欢】【送】【蓝】【礼】【时】
【随】【着】【灵】【气】【的】【排】【出】，【吴】【丽】【的】【疼】【痛】【减】【除】，【神】【色】【也】【一】【点】【点】【恢】【复】【正】【常】，【渐】【渐】【安】【然】【的】【昏】【睡】【了】【过】【去】！ 【夏】【初】【梦】【撇】【撇】【嘴】，【好】【人】【做】【到】【底】，【还】【是】【用】【木】【灵】【气】【修】【复】【了】【她】【的】【受】【损】【经】【脉】。【算】【你】【命】【大】，【再】【过】【上】【一】【会】【儿】【怕】【是】【就】【没】【命】【了】。 【直】【起】【身】，“【好】【了】，【一】【会】【儿】【给】【她】【喂】【点】【米】【粥】，【恢】【复】【些】【力】【气】【就】【能】【醒】【了】！” 【何】【琪】【十】【分】【为】【难】【的】【看】【向】【夏】【初】【梦】，“【那】【个】，独家心水是什么动物“【大】【人】，【小】【的】【愿】【招】，【还】【望】【大】【人】【给】【小】【的】【一】【个】【机】【会】！” 【哭】【喊】【着】【出】【声】【的】【是】【一】【个】【脑】【满】【肠】【肥】【的】【家】【伙】，【看】【这】【厮】【的】【模】【样】【也】【有】【四】【十】【的】【样】【子】【了】，【哭】【的】【跟】【个】【撒】【泼】【的】【娘】【们】【似】【的】，【让】【人】【心】【头】【腻】【歪】。 【吕】【腾】【上】【前】【一】【步】，【喝】【道】：“【住】【口】，【长】【官】【面】【前】【哭】【哭】【啼】【啼】【的】，【成】【何】【体】【统】！” “【是】，【是】，【小】【的】【不】【敢】【了】！” 【人】【在】【屋】【檐】【下】，【这】【厮】【又】【岂】【敢】【违】【逆】，
【林】【岛】【也】【是】【这】【样】，【大】【学】【毕】【业】【后】，【林】【岛】【留】【在】【了】B【大】，【继】【续】【读】【研】【究】【生】，【然】【后】【是】【博】【士】。 【由】【于】【贡】【献】【突】【出】，【安】【辰】【还】【被】【奖】【励】【了】【一】【套】B【市】【的】【房】【子】，【和】【林】【岛】【一】【起】【搬】【进】【去】【了】。 【正】【在】【熟】【睡】【的】【林】【岛】【突】【然】【惊】【醒】，【深】【吸】【几】【口】【气】，【赶】【紧】【摸】【摸】【身】【旁】【的】【安】【辰】，【安】【辰】【还】【在】【她】【的】【身】【边】。 【林】【岛】【的】【动】【作】【让】【安】【辰】【也】【醒】【来】【了】，【发】【现】【林】【岛】【的】【精】【神】【不】【是】【很】【好】，【安】【辰】【问】
【阳】【光】【正】【好】，【微】【风】【拂】【过】【树】【叶】，【在】【林】【间】【沙】【沙】【作】【响】。【魔】【王】【出】【现】【在】【两】【人】【的】【面】【前】【时】，【释】【凌】【只】【是】【淡】【然】【一】【笑】，【魔】【王】【隐】【隐】【的】【感】【觉】【到】【释】【凌】【身】【上】【的】【气】【息】【有】【一】【些】【不】【同】，【他】【看】【了】【看】【琅】【嬛】，【琅】【嬛】【也】【只】【是】【微】【微】【一】【笑】。 “【还】【不】【走】【吗】？”【魔】【王】【看】【着】【两】【人】【并】【没】【有】【想】【要】【出】【发】【的】【样】【子】，【又】【问】【了】【一】【下】，【难】【道】【琅】【嬛】【不】【是】【在】【等】【自】【己】【么】？ “【走】【吧】。”【琅】【嬛】【话】【音】【刚】【落】，
【时】【间】【进】【入】【十】【一】【月】，【一】【天】【比】【一】【天】【冷】【了】，【棉】【衣】【早】【就】【上】【了】【身】，【仍】【挡】【不】【住】【寒】【气】，【白】【天】【走】【在】【外】【头】【都】【忍】【不】【住】【缩】【脖】【缩】【手】。 【蔬】【菜】【停】【收】【后】，【季】【妧】【和】【胡】【良】【恳】【谈】【了】【一】【番】，【之】【后】【胡】【良】【去】【了】【制】【药】【坊】，【从】【小】【工】【做】【起】，【慢】【慢】【接】【触】【管】【理】。 【他】【这】【一】【走】，【里】【里】【外】【外】【的】【杂】【活】【自】【然】【得】【有】【人】【接】【上】，【人】【选】【也】【好】【找】——【季】【连】【松】【和】【史】【勇】。 【藤】【编】【筐】【仍】【是】【交】【给】【五】【爷】【爷】【了】