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Reassessing the WIC Effect: Evidence from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System

Author

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  • Andrew D. Racine
  • Cristina Yunzal-Butler

Abstract

Recent analyses differ on how effective the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is at improving infant health. We use data from nine states that participate in the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System to address limitations in previous work. With information on the mother's timing of WIC enrollment, we test whether greater exposure to WIC is associated with less smoking, improved weight gain during pregnancy, better birth outcomes, and greater likelihood of breastfeeding. Our results suggest that much of the often-reported association between WIC and lower rates of preterm birth is likely spurious, the result of gestational age bias. We find modest effects of WIC on fetal growth, inconsistent associations between WIC and smoking, limited associations with gestational weight gain, and some relationship with breast feeding. A WIC effect exists, but on fewer margins and with less impact than has been claimed by policy analysts and advocates.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew D. Racine & Cristina Yunzal-Butler, 2007. "Reassessing the WIC Effect: Evidence from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System," NBER Working Papers 13441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13441
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:1:105-111_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1987:77:7:813-818_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jeffrey E. Harris, 1982. "Prenatal Medical Care and Infant Mortality," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 13-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
    7. 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.
    8. Barbara Devaney & Linda Bilheimer & Jennifer Schore, 1992. "Medicaid costs and birth outcomes: The effects of prenatal WIC participation and the use of prenatal care," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 573-592.
    9. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1993:83:2:201-206_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
    11. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. 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.
    13. M. H. Khalil Timamy, 2005. "Debate," Review of African Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(104-105), pages 383-393, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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