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Medicaid at Birth, WIC Take Up, and Children's Outcomes

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  • Marianne Bitler
  • Janet Currie

Abstract

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food and nutritional advice to low-income women, and infants and children, who are income eligible and are nutritionally-at-risk. The effects of WIC on infants have been extensively studied, but children one to four are the most rapidly growing part of the WIC caseload, and little information is available about the effects of WIC on this group. Using data from the 1996 and 2001 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we show that Medicaid policies that affected take up among infants had long term effects on participation in the WIC program. By contrast, increases in the generosity of Medicaid towards older children increased WIC eligibility without having much impact on participation. Hence increases in WIC participation among children have not been driven by higher income families made eligible as a result of SCHIP, as some critics have argued. Our most striking finding is that WIC participation at age four has large and significant effects on the probability that a child is at risk of overweight (i.e. had BMI greater than the 85th percentile for sex and age). This suggests that either the nutrition education or the actual provision of healthy food is helping to prevent obesity among young children. This is an important measure of the success of the WIC program because of the importance of obesity as a public health threat, and because of the importance of establishing healthy eating habits early in life.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 172.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:172

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  1. Marianne P. Bitler & Janet Currie, 2005. "Does WIC work? The effects of WIC on pregnancy and birth outcomes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 73-91.
  2. Barbara Devaney & Linda Bilheimer & Jennifer Schore, 1992. "Medicaid costs and birth outcomes: The effects of prenatal WIC participation and the use of prenatal care," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 573-592.
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Cited by:
  1. Laura Castner & James Mabli & Julie Sykes, 2009. "Dynamics of WIC Program Participation by Infants and Children, 2001 to 2003," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 6256, Mathematica Policy Research.
  2. Ver Ploeg, Michele & Mancino, Lisa & Lin, Biing-Hwan, 2007. "Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs and Obesity: 1976-2002," Economic Research Report 55965, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  3. Michele Ploeg, 2009. "Do Benefits of U.S. Food Assistance Programs for Children Spillover to Older Children in the Same Household?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 412-427, December.
  4. Thesia I. Garner & Charles Hokayem, 2012. "Supplemental Poverty Measure Thresholds: Imputing School Lunch and WIC Benefits to the Consumer Expenditure Survey Using the Current Population Survey," Working Papers 457, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  5. Daphne C. Hernandez & Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, 2008. "Family Structure and Income Volatility: Association with Food Stamp Program Participation," Working Papers 1018, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  6. Manan Roy, 2012. "Identifying the Effect of WIC on Infant Health When Participation is Endogenous and Misreported," Departmental Working Papers 1202, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  7. Silvie Colman & Ira P. Nichols-Barrer & Julie E. Redline & Barbara L. Devaney & Sara V. Ansell & Ted Joyce, 2012. "Effects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): A Review of Recent Research," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7368, Mathematica Policy Research.

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