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Do Food Stamps Contribute to Obesity in Low-Income Women? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979

  • Maoyong Fan

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

Does the Food Stamp Program (FSP), which provides in-kind transfers to low- income Americans, cause female participants to become obese? This question is particularly important because participants are substantially more likely to be obese than are nonparticipants. This paper estimates the effects of food stamp benefits on obesity, overweight and body mass index (BMI) of low-income women. Contrary to previous results, we find little evidence that the FSP causes obesity, overweight or higher BMI. Our analysis differs from previous research in three aspects. First, we exploit a rich longitudinal data set, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, to distinguish between full-time and part- time participation. Second, instead of making parametric assumptions on outcomes, we employ a variety of difference-in-difference matching estimators to control for selection bias. Third, we estimate both short-term (one-year participation) and long-term (three-year participation) treatment effects. Empirical results show that after controlling for selection bias and defining the treatment and comparison groups carefully, there is little evidence that food stamps are responsible for higher BMI or obesity in female participants. Our estimates are robust to different definitions of the treatment and comparison groups, and to various matching algorithms.

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File URL: http://econfac.iweb.bsu.edu/research/workingpapers/bsuecwp201005fan.pdf
File Function: First version, March 2010
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Paper provided by Ball State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201005.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision: Mar 2010
Publication status: Published in American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2010, 92(4): 1165-1180.
Handle: RePEc:bsu:wpaper:201005
Contact details of provider: Postal: Muncie, Indiana 47306
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Fax: (765) 285-8024
Web page: http://www.bsu.edu/econ

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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," NBER Working Papers 8946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2002. "Simple and Bias-Corrected Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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