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Food Insecurity and Public Assistance

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  • George J. Borjas

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which welfare programs reduce the probability that vulnerable household are food insecure, where food insecurity occurs when the household experiences food deprivation because of financial resource constraints. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) made fundamental changes in the federal system of public assistance, and specifically limited the eligibility of immigrant households to receive many types of aid. Many states chose to protect their immigrant populations from the presumed effects of PRWORA by offering state- funded assistance to these groups. I exploit these exogenous changes in eligibility rules to examine the link between food insecurity and public assistance. The data indicate that those immigrants most likely to be adversely affected by the welfare reform legislation experienced a sizable relative decline in the probability of welfare receipt, and a substantial relative increase in the probability of food insecurity. The evidence suggests that a cut of 10 percentage points in the fraction of the population that receives public assistance increases the fraction of households experiencing food insecurity by 5 percentage points. The data, therefore, provide some evidence to support the hypothesis that welfare programs achieve one of their key objectives, providing households with a minimal level of food sufficiency.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 243.

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Date of creation: 06 Nov 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:243

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References

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  1. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "What Goes Up Must Come Down? Explaining Recent Changes in Public Assistance Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 78, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  24. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1995. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means- Tested Entitlement Programs," NBER Working Papers 5372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Nord, Mark & Andrews, Margaret S. & Carlson, Steven, 2002. "Household Food Security In The United States, 2001," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33865, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  27. Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Cash welfare as a consumption smoothing mechanism for divorced mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 157-182, February.
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