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

47 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2007 Last revised: 6 Feb 2010

See all articles by Theodore Joyce

Theodore Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrew Racine

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office; Montefiore Medical Center

Cristina Yunzal-Butler

CUNY - The Graduate Center

Date Written: September 2007

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

Joyce, Theodore J. and Racine, Andrew and Yunzal-Butler, Cristina, Reassessing the WIC Effect: Evidence from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System (September 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13441, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1017764

Theodore J. Joyce

CUNY Baruch College - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Andrew Racine (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
50 East 42nd Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

Montefiore Medical Center ( email )

111 East 210th Street
Bronx, NY 10467

Cristina Yunzal-Butler

CUNY - The Graduate Center ( email )

365 Fifth Avenue
New York,, NY 10016
United States

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