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Can targeted transfers improve birth outcomes?: Evidence from the introduction of the WIC program

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Author Info

  • Hoynes, Hilary
  • Page, Marianne
  • Stevens, Ann Huff

Abstract

The goal of federal food and nutrition programs in the United States is to improve the nutritional well-being and health of low income families. A large body of literature evaluates the extent to which the Supplemental Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) has accomplished this goal, but most studies have been based on research designs that compare program participants to non-participants. If selection into these programs is non-random then such comparisons will lead to biased estimates of the program's true effects. In this study we use the rollout of the WIC program across counties to estimate the impact of the program on infant health. We find that the implementation of WIC led to an increase in average birth weight and a decrease in the fraction of births that are classified as low birth weight. We find no evidence that these estimates are driven by changes in fertility or selection into live births. Our preferred estimates suggest that WIC initiation raised average birth weight by 2Â g, or by 7Â g among infants born to mothers with low education levels. These translate into estimated birth weight increases among participating mothers of approximately 18 to 29Â g. Estimated treatments on the treated impacts among infants born to participating mothers with low education are of similar magnitude.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7-8 (August)
Pages: 813-827

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:813-827

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

Related research

Keywords: Public assistance Anti poverty programs Infant health;

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Cited by:
  1. Dora Costa, 2013. "Health and the Economy in the United States, from 1750 to the Present," NBER Working Papers 19685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lisa Schulkind, 2013. "Getting a Sporting Chance: Title IX and the Intergenerational Transmission of Health," Working Papers 1305, Trinity College, Department of Economics.
  3. Lindo, Jason M., 2010. "Parental Job Loss and Infant Health," IZA Discussion Papers 5213, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2013. "WIC in your neighborhood: New evidence on the impacts of geographic access to clinics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 51-69.

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