The effect of WIC on breastfeeding: A new look at an established relationship
Although the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has been credited with increasing birth weights and improving child health, the program has been criticized for reducing breastfeeding through the provision of free formula. Yet WIC recipients are socio-economically disadvantaged as compared to non-participants. As a result, whether lower breastfeeding rates reflect the effect of the program or the types of women who participate is unknown. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics -- Child Development Supplement, this study uses propensity scores and fixed-effects estimation to determine the effect of WIC on breastfeeding initiation and duration. Our study is the first to use a method other than Ordinary Least Squares to analyze the association between WIC and breastfeeding behaviors. Results indicate that the negative association is likely spurious, arising from the poor socio-demographic profile of participants.
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