Note: Race/ethnicity variable from Medi-Cal Eligibility Data System (MEDS). The variable combines concepts of race and ethnicity. It is also a combination of self-
reporting and social-worker visual identification (applicants are asked to provide their self-identified race/ethnicity, but if they do not mark anything the eligibility worker will enter a value based on their own visual assessment). Because of this mix in reporting, we say that individuals are “identified as” a particular group in the data. In 2020, CDSS discontinued this policy, only permitting self-identification of race and ethnicity. The demographic distribution of race/ethnicity in the CDSS data is comparable with the distribution of California households on food stamps by race/ethnicity from the American Community Survey (2019). Table excludes “Two or more races” due to small cell size.
Source: California Department of Social Services data (2017) and Franchise Tax Board data (2017).
* Our analysis captures individuals in safety-net programs administered by CDSS who identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native but do not live on tribal land and/
or earn tribal income. Individuals who earn tribal income are exempt from state tax filing in California and may not appear as having received a payment automatically in
our data. However, among those earners who qualify for safety-net programs, most are also likely eligible for tribal safety-net programs – such as the Food Distribution
Program on Indian Reservations and Tribal TANF – and would not appear in the MEDS data.
** CDSS reports eight ethnicities that are grouped by the US Census into an “Asian” category (Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Laotian,
and Vietnamese), and three ethnicities that are grouped by the US Census as “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific” (Guamanian, Hawaiian, and Samoan). Due to small
cell sizes, we are unable to report each category distinctly, and use the US Census race/ethnicity categories to best capture the distinct take-up rates across all these categories. CDSS also has a separate, distinct option in the data titled “Asian or Pacific Islander.” We are unable to meaningfully group that category and choose to report