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Food Insecurity and Public Assistance

  • George J. Borjas

This paper examines the extent to which welfare programs reduce the probability that vulnerable household are food insecure, where food insecurity occurs when the household experiences food deprivation because of financial resource constraints. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) made fundamental changes in the federal system of public assistance, and specifically limited the eligibility of immigrant households to receive many types of aid. Many states chose to protect their immigrant populations from the presumed effects of PRWORA by offering state- funded assistance to these groups. I exploit these exogenous changes in eligibility rules to examine the link between food insecurity and public assistance. The data indicate that those immigrants most likely to be adversely affected by the welfare reform legislation experienced a sizable relative decline in the probability of welfare receipt, and a substantial relative increase in the probability of food insecurity. The evidence suggests that a cut of 10 percentage points in the fraction of the population that receives public assistance increases the fraction of households experiencing food insecurity by 5 percentage points. The data, therefore, provide some evidence to support the hypothesis that welfare programs achieve one of their key objectives, providing households with a minimal level of food sufficiency.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 243.

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Date of creation: 06 Nov 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:243
Contact details of provider: Postal: Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-0472
Web page: http://www.jcpr.org/wp/ByDate.html
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  1. Janet Currie & Aaron Yelowitz, 1997. "Are Public Housing Projects Good for Kids?," NBER Working Papers 6305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nord, Mark & Andrews, Margaret S. & Carlson, Steven, 2002. "Household Food Security In The United States, 2001," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33865, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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  9. Joseph Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcome of Less-Skilled Natives," Working Papers 636, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  12. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1982. "Social Insurance and Consumption: An Empirical Inquiry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 101-13, March.
  13. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1995. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means- Tested Entitlement Programs," NBER Working Papers 5372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Cash welfare as a consumption smoothing mechanism for divorced mothers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 157-182, February.
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  22. David N. Figlio & Craig Gundersen & James P. Ziliak, 2000. "The Effects of the Macroeconomy and Welfare Reform on Food Stamp Caseloads," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(3), pages 635-641.
  23. Francine D. Blau, 1984. "The use of transfer payments by immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(2), pages 222-239, January.
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  26. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Split-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 225-35, April.
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  28. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "What Goes Up Must Come Down? Explaining Recent Changes in Public Assistance Caseloads," JCPR Working Papers 78, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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