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Long Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net

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  • Hilary W. Hoynes
  • Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
  • Douglas Almond

Abstract

A growing economics literature establishes a causal link between in utero shocks and health and human capital in adulthood. Most studies rely on extreme negative shocks such as famine and pandemics. We are the first to examine the impact of a positive and policy-driven change in economic resources available in utero and during childhood. In particular, we focus on the introduction of a key element of the U.S. safety net, the Food Stamp Program, which was rolled out across counties in the U.S. between 1961 and 1975. We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assemble unique data linking family background and county of residence in early childhood to adult health and economic outcomes. The identification comes from variation across counties and over birth cohorts in exposure to the food stamp program. Our findings indicate that the food stamp program has effects decades after initial exposure. Specifically, access to food stamps in childhood leads to a significant reduction in the incidence of “metabolic syndrome” (obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes) and, for women, an increase in economic self-sufficiency. Overall, our results suggest substantial internal and external benefits of the safety net that have not previously been quantified.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18535.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18535

Note: CH DAE ED HC HE LS PE
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References

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  1. Kevin Milligan & Mark Stabile, 2008. "Do Child Tax Benefits Affect the Wellbeing of Children? Evidence from Canadian Child Benefit Expansions," NBER Working Papers 14624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. van Ewijk, Reyn, 2011. "Long-term health effects on the next generation of Ramadan fasting during pregnancy," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1246-1260.
  3. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Ramadan Observance during Pregnancy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 56-85, October.
  4. Alan I. Barreca, 2010. "The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 865-892.
  5. Sherry Glied & Matthew Neidell, 2010. "The Economic Value of Teeth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
  6. Elaine Kelly, 2009. "The scourge of Asian Flu: in utero exposure to pandemic influenza and the development of a cohort of British children," IFS Working Papers W09/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Marianne Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2010. "The state of the safety net in the post-welfare reform era," Working Paper Series 2010-31, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  8. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Mårten Palme, 2007. "Chernobyl's Subclinical Legacy: Prenatal Exposure to Radioactive Fallout and School Outcomes in Sweden," NBER Working Papers 13347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Sandra E Black & Paul J Devereux & Kjell G Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439, 02.
  10. Susan Dynarski & Joshua M. Hyman & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2011. "Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion," NBER Working Papers 17533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Martha J. Bailey, 2011. "Reexamining the Impact of Family Planning Programs on U.S. Fertility: Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X," NBER Working Papers 17343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Elizabeth Cascio & Nora Gordon & Ethan Lewis & Sarah Reber, 2009. "Paying for Progress: Conditional Grants and the Desegregation of Southern Schools," NBER Working Papers 14869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  14. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
  15. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208, 02.
  16. Bharadwaj, Prashant & Løken, Katrine V. & Neilson, Christopher, 2012. "Early Life Health Interventions And Academic Achievement," Working Papers in Economics 13/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  17. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong," NBER Working Papers 13384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. James Fenske & Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham, 2014. "Early Life Circumstance and Adult Mental Health," Economics Series Working Papers 698, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2014. "The Effect of School Finance Reforms on the Distribution of Spending, Academic Achievement, and Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 20118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Simon, 2013. "Does Early Life Exposure to Cigarette Smoke Permanently Harm Childhood Health? Evidence from Cigarette Tax Hikes," Working papers 2013-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  4. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernandez, 2013. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," IFS Working Papers W13/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Ethan M.J. Lieber & Lee M. Lockwood, 2013. "Costs and Benefits of In-Kind Transfers: The Case of Medicaid Home Care Benefits," Working Papers wp294, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  6. Achyuta Adhvaryu & James Fenske & Anant Nyshadham, 2014. "Early Life Circumstance and Mental Health in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-03, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  7. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2014. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," DoQSS Working Papers 14-04, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.

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