Is a WIC Start a Better Start? Evaluating Wic&Apos;S Impact on Infant Health Using Program Introduction

42 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2009 Last revised: 5 Feb 2021

See all articles by Hilary Williamson Hoynes

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Marianne Page

University of California, Davis

Ann Huff Stevens

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2009

Abstract

The goal of federal food and nutrition programs in the United States is to improve the nutritional well-being and health of low income families. A large body of literature evaluates the extent to which the Supplemental Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) has accomplished this goal, but most studies have been based on research designs that compare program participants to non-participants. If selection into these programs is non-random then such comparisons will lead to biased estimates of the program's true effects. In this study we use the rollout of the WIC program across counties to estimate the impact of the program on infant health. We find that the implementation of WIC lead to an increase in average birthweight and a decrease in the fraction of births that are classified as low birthweight. We find no evidence that these estimates are driven by changes in fertility. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the initiation of WIC lead to a ten percent increase in the birthweight of infants born to participating mothers.

Suggested Citation

Hoynes, Hilary Williamson and Page, Marianne and Stevens, Ann, Is a WIC Start a Better Start? Evaluating Wic&Apos;S Impact on Infant Health Using Program Introduction (December 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15589, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1525767

Hilary Williamson Hoynes (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Marianne Page

University of California, Davis ( email )

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Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-1551 (Phone)

Ann Stevens

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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