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Does prenatal WIC participation improve birth outcomes? New evidence from Florida

  • Figlio, David
  • Hamersma, Sarah
  • Roth, Jeffrey

We study the effects of prenatal receipt of nutritional and educational services provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on birth outcomes. Our identification strategy consists of two elements: (1) identifying families in a very tight income range surrounding the WIC eligibility threshold; and (2) exploiting a policy change that differentially influenced the WIC takeup rates of the families on each side of the eligibility threshold. We conduct this analysis by merging three large statewide administrative datasets from Florida concerning all births during the period 1997-2001. We match the birth records of infants and the school records of their older siblings in order to relatively precisely identify "marginally eligible" and "marginally ineligible" families that are very similar in their observable characteristics. We find that WIC participation has no effect on mean birth weight and gestational age, but substantially reduces the likelihood of adverse birth outcomes, e.g. birth weights below 2500Â g.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 235-245

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:1-2:p:235-245
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2006. "Cash-on-Hand and Competing Models of Intertemporal Behavior: New Evidence from the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 12639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jens Ludwig & Matthew Miller, 2005. "Interpreting the WIC debate," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 691-701.
  3. 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.
  4. Swann Christopher A, 2007. "The Timing of Prenatal WIC Participation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-27, January.
  5. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  6. Ted Joyce & Andrew Racine & Cristina Yunzal-Butler, 2008. "Reassessing the WIC effect: Evidence from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 277-303.
  7. Ted Joyce & Diane Gibson & Silvie Colman, 2005. "The changing association between prenatal participation in WIC and birth outcomes in New York City," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 661-685.
  8. M. H. Khalil Timamy, 2005. "Debate," Review of African Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(104-105), pages 383-393, June.
  9. Ted Joyce & Diane Gibson & Silvie Colman, 2004. "The Changing Association Between Prenatal Participation in WIC and Birth Outcomes in New York City," NBER Working Papers 10796, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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