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Effects of Federal Nutrition Program on Birth Outcomes

Author

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  • Yunwei Gai

    ()

  • Li Feng

    ()

Abstract

Using a nationally representative sample of the birth cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, we examine the impact on birth outcomes of the largest federal nutrition program in the United States: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). By identifying a set of strong and valid instrumental variables for WIC participation, we are able to address the fundamental problem in the literature—selection bias. Similar to recent studies, we find that WIC does not affect average birth weight and average gestational week after correcting for selection bias using the instrumental variable method. However, WIC participation has significantly reduced the probability of very premature birth and (very) low birth weight after controlling selection bias by bivariate probit models. Our results indicate that rather than affecting the average outcomes, WIC is more effective for births that are at high risk. The potential benefits of WIC program can be realized by increasing its focus on more disadvantaged mothers. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Yunwei Gai & Li Feng, 2012. "Effects of Federal Nutrition Program on Birth Outcomes," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 40(1), pages 61-83, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:40:y:2012:i:1:p:61-83
    DOI: 10.1007/s11293-011-9294-y
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11293-011-9294-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2005. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1031-1083.
    2. Morris, Stephen, 2007. "The impact of obesity on employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 413-433, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Figlio, David & Hamersma, Sarah & Roth, Jeffrey, 2009. "Does prenatal WIC participation improve birth outcomes? New evidence from Florida," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 235-245, February.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:11:1773-1778_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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.
    7. McDonald, Thomas P. & Coburn, Andrew F., 1988. "Predictors of prenatal care utilization," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 167-172, January.
    8. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    9. Rosemary Hyson & Janet Currie, 1999. "Is the Impact of Health Shocks Cushioned by Socioeconomic Status? The Case of Low Birthweight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 245-250, May.
    10. 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.
    11. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:5:799-804_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Currie, Janet & Cole, Nancy, 1993. "Welfare and Child Health: The Link between AFDC Participation and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 971-985, September.
    13. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:1:82-88_9 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Hope Corman & Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Evolution of the Infant Health Production Function," NBER Working Papers 24131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Nutrition; Access to care; Birth outcomes; Women; infants and children (WIC) program; Bivariate probit model (BVP); I12; I18;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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