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Is a WIC Start a Better Start? Evaluating WIC’s Impact on Infant Health Using Program Introduction

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  • Hilary W. Hoynes
  • Marianne E. Page
  • Ann Huff Stevens

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 lead to an increase in average birthweight and a decrease in the fraction of births that are classified as low birthweight. We find no evidence that these estimates are driven by changes in fertility. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the initiation of WIC lead to a ten percent increase in the birthweight of infants born to participating mothers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15589.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Publication status: published as “Can Targeted Transfers Improve Birth Outcom es? Evidence from the Introduction of the WIC Program,” (with Hilary Hoynes and Ann Stevens), Journal of Public Economics , 95: 813-827, August 2011.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15589

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Cited by:
  1. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Mariesa Herrmann, 2011. "From Infant to Mother: Early Disease Environment and Future Maternal Health," NBER Working Papers 17676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hani Mansour & Daniel I. Rees, 2011. "The Effect of Prenatal Stress on Birth Weight: Evidence from the al-Aqsa Intifada," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1108, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
  4. Janet Currie, 2011. "Ungleichheiten bei der Geburt: Einige Ursachen und Folgen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 42-65, 05.
  5. William N. Evans & Craig L. Garthwaite, 2010. "Giving Mom a Break: The Impact of Higher EITC Payments on Maternal Health," NBER Working Papers 16296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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