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SNAP and Diet Quality: An Instrumental Variables Approach

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  • Gregory, Christian A.
  • Ver Ploeg, Michele
  • Andrews, Margaret S.
  • Coleman-Jensen, Alisha

Abstract

Recent research has shown that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is effective in reducing food insecurity. Questions remain, however, about whether SNAP also has any effects on the quality of low-income households’ diets. These questions have surfaced in the context of the increasing public costs of diet-related illnesses like diabetes, dyslipidemia, and heart disease. Policy recommendations to restrict what can be purchased with SNAP benefits are evidence of these concerns. We use a unique data set that matches state-level SNAP policy variables to individual level data in three waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We examine Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores and intakes of macro-nutrients for low-income households that do and do not participate in SNAP. We find that, after controlling for observed and unobserved factors, SNAP recipients had overall diet quality comparable to their counterparts, although most differences are in the favor of non-participants. While SNAP purchase restrictions could improve diet outcomes, they might do so at the cost of impairing the effectiveness of SNAP at reducing food insecurity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 124757.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124757

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Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty;

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  1. Yen, Steven T., 2010. "The effects of SNAP and WIC programs on nutrient intakes of children," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 576-583, December.
  2. Zagorsky, Jay L. & Smith, Patricia K., 2009. "Does the U.S. Food Stamp Program contribute to adult weight gain?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 246-258, July.
  3. Nord, Mark & Golla, Anne Marie, 2009. "Does SNAP Decrease Food Insecurity? Untangling the Self-Selection Effect," Economic Research Report 55955, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  4. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Ralston, Katherine L., 2008. "Food Stamps and Obesity: What Do We Know?," Economic Information Bulletin 58640, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  5. Steven T. Yen & Margaret Andrews & Zhuo Chen & David B. Eastwood, 2008. "Food Stamp Program Participation and Food Insecurity: An Instrumental Variables Approach," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(1), pages 117-132.
  6. Carol S. Kramer-LeBlanc & P. Peter Basiotis & Eileen T. Kennedy, 1997. "Maintaining Food and Nutrition Security in the United States with Welfare Reform," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1600-1607.
  7. Caroline Ratcliffe & Signe-Mary McKernan & Sisi Zhang, 2011. "How Much Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reduce Food Insecurity?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1082-1098.
  8. Parke E. Wilde & Paul E. McNamara & Christine K. Ranney, 1999. "The Effect of Income and Food Programs on Dietary Quality: A Seemingly Unrelated Regression Analysis with Error Components," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(4), pages 959-971.
  9. Richard A. DePolt & Robert A. Moffitt & David C. Ribar, 2009. "Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance For Needy Families And Food Hardships In Three American Cities," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(4), pages 445-473, October.
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