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Food assistance programs and food insecurity: implications for Canada in light of the mixing problem

Author

Listed:
  • Craig Gundersen

    () (University of Illinois)

  • Brent Kreider

    (Iowa State University)

  • John Pepper

    (University of Virginia)

  • Valerie Tarasuk

    (University of Toronto)

Abstract

Abstract In light of concerns about high rates of food insecurity, some have suggested that it might be time for Canada to implement national food assistance programs like those provided in the US, namely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In this paper, we assess how adopting these types of assistance programs would change the food insecurity rate in Canada among households with children. Using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), we first evaluate the causal impact of these programs on food insecurity rates in the US using the Canadian definition of food security. Following other recent evaluations of food assistance programs, we use partial identification methods to address the selection problem that arises because the decision to take up the program is not random. We then combine these estimated impacts for the US with data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to predict how SNAP and NSLP would impact food insecurity rates in Canada. Partial identification methods are used to address the “mixing problem” that arises if some eligible Canadian households would participate in SNAP and others would not. The strength of the conclusions depends on the strength of the identifying assumptions. Under the weakest assumptions, we cannot determine whether food insecurity rates would rise or fall. Under our strongest nonparametric assumptions, we find that food insecurity would fall by at least 16% if SNAP were implemented and 11% if NSLP were implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Craig Gundersen & Brent Kreider & John Pepper & Valerie Tarasuk, 2017. "Food assistance programs and food insecurity: implications for Canada in light of the mixing problem," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 1065-1087, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1191-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s00181-016-1191-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Manski, Charles F, 1990. "Nonparametric Bounds on Treatment Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 319-323, May.
    2. John V. Pepper, 2000. "The Intergenerational Transmission Of Welfare Receipt: A Nonparametric Bounds Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 472-488, August.
    3. Craig Gundersen & Brent Kreider & John Pepper, 2011. "The Economics of Food Insecurity in the United States," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 33(3), pages 281-303.
    4. Charles F. Manski, 1997. "Monotone Treatment Response," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(6), pages 1311-1334, November.
    5. Dehejia, Rajeev H., 2005. "Program evaluation as a decision problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 141-173.
    6. Craig Gundersen & Susan Offutt, 2005. "Farm Poverty and Safety Nets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(4), pages 885-899.
    7. Molinari, Francesca, 2008. "Partial identification of probability distributions with misclassified data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 81-117, May.
    8. Gundersen, Craig & Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John, 2012. "The impact of the National School Lunch Program on child health: A nonparametric bounds analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 79-91.
    9. Brent Kreider & John V. Pepper & Craig Gundersen & Dean Jolliffe, 2012. "Identifying the Effects of SNAP (Food Stamps) on Child Health Outcomes When Participation Is Endogenous and Misreported," Journal of the American Statistical Association, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 107(499), pages 958-975, September.
    10. John V. Pepper, 2003. "Using Experiments to Evaluate Performance Standards: What Do Welfare-to-Work Demonstrations Reveal to Welfare Reformers?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(4).
    11. Charles F. Manski & John V. Pepper, 2000. "Monotone Instrumental Variables, with an Application to the Returns to Schooling," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 997-1012, July.
    12. Esa Eslami, 2014. "Trends in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates: Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2012," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 35927b5532964e72b1190b443, Mathematica Policy Research.
    13. Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2007. "Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 432-441, June.
    14. Charles F. Manski, 1997. "The Mixing Problem in Programme Evaluation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 537-553.
    15. Craig Gundersen & Victor Oliveira, 2001. "The Food Stamp Program and Food Insufficiency," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(4), pages 875-887.
    16. repec:mpr:mprres:8034 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Lynn McIntyre & Daniel J. Dutton & Cynthia Kwok & J.C. Herbert Emery, 2016. "Reduction of Food Insecurity among Low-Income Canadian Seniors as a Likely Impact of a Guaranteed Annual Income," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(3), pages 274-286, September.
    18. Coleman-Jensen, Alisha & Gregory, Christian & Singh, Anita, 2014. "Household Food Security in the United States in 2013," Economic Research Report 183589, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; National School Lunch Program; Food insecurity; Partial identification; Mixing problem; Selection problem; Treatment effects; Nonparametric bounds;

    JEL classification:

    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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