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Sheldon H. Danziger photo

The Effects of Food Assistance Programs on Child Well-being Among Families Experiencing Job Loss, Divorce, or Separation

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Sheldon H. Danziger, H. Luke Shaefer

This project will analyze data from the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). We will examine the effects of participation in the two largest food assistance programs on the well-being of children in low-income families that experience adverse economic shocks?job loss, divorce or separation. The analyses will focus on children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and children receiving free and reduced price lunches from the National School Lunch Program. Our primary measure of child well-being will be food insecurity. Also considered will be the effects of food assistance on parent-reported child health status, household stability and material well-being, and the health care utilization of children.

To counteract bias related to selection issues related to a family?s decision to participate in food assistance programs, we will utilize an instrumental variables approach. In the first stage, we will instrument the probability of participation in SNAP and NSLP, utilizing exogenous state policy variables that have been used in related studies. In the second stage, the instrumented participation variables will be included in models examining child well-being outcomes.

This study will reveal the extent to which food assistance programs buffer the effects of adverse economic shocks on the food security and well-being of children. This will be one of the first studies to use nationally-representative panel data gathered during the ?Great Recession? to focus on the effects of food assistance program participation on children in families who experience economic shocks.

Funding Period: 09/08/2010 to 08/30/2013

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