Advertisement

Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1518–1525 | Cite as

The Impact of WIC on Birth Outcomes: New Evidence from South Carolina

  • Lyudmyla SonchakEmail author
Article

Abstract

Objectives To investigate the impact of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) on a variety of infant health outcomes using recent South Carolina Vital Statistics data (2004–2012). Methods To account for non-random WIC participation, the study relies on a maternal fixed effects estimation, due to the availability of unique maternally linked data. Results The results indicate that WIC participation is associated with an increase in birth weight and length of gestation, decrease in the probability of low birth weight, prematurity, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission. Additionally, addressing gestational bias and accounting for the length of gestation, WIC participation is associated with a decrease in the probability of delivering a low weight infant and a small for gestational age infant among black mothers. Conclusions for Practice Accounting for non-random program participation, the study documents a large improvement in birth outcomes among infants of WIC participating mothers. Even in the context of somewhat restrictive gestation-adjusted specification, the positive impact of WIC remains within the subsample of black mothers.

Keywords

Infant health Birth weight WIC participation Supplemental nutrition 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Division of Biostatistics at South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for providing data for this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  1. 1.
    Alexander, G. R. (1996). A United States national reference for fetal growth. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 87(2), 163–168.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Almond, D., et al. (2005). The cost of low birth weight. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(3), 1031–1083.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Besharov, D. J., & Germanis, D. (2001). Rethinking WIC: An evaluation of the women, infants and children program. Washington, DC: AEI Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bitler, M., & Currie, J. (2005). Does WIC work? The effect of WIC on pregnancy and birth outcomes. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 23(4), 73–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Black, S., Devereux, P., & Salvanes, K. (2007). From the cradle to the labor market? The effect of birth weight on adult outcomes. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(1), 409–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Behrman, J., & Rosenzweig, M. (2004). Returns to birthweight. Review of Economics and Statistics, 86(2), 586–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brien, M.J., & Swann, C.A. (2001). Prenatal WIC participation and infant health: Selection and maternal fixed effects. Manuscript, SUNY-Stony-Brook Department of Economics.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Conway, K. S., & Deb, P. (2005). Is prenatal care really ineffective? Or, is the “devil” in the distribution? Journal of Health Economics, 24(3), 489–513.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Currie, J. (2001). Early childhood intervention programs: What do we know? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15(2), 213–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Currie, J., & Rajani, I. (2015). Within mother estimates of the effects of WIC on birth outcomes in New York city. Economic Inquiry, 53(4), 1691–1701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Currie, J., & Thomas, D. (1995). Does head start make a difference? The American Economic Review, 85(3), 341–364.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Griliches, Z., & Hausman, J. (1986). Errors in variables in panel data. Journal of Econometrics, 31, 93–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Foster, M., et al. (2010). The effect of the WIC program on the health of newborns. Health Services Research, 45(4), 1083–1104.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Hoynes, H., Page, M., & Stevens, A. (2011). Can targeted transfers improve birth outcomes? Evidence from the introduction of the WIC program. Journal of Public Economics, 95, 813–827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Joyce, T., Gibson, D., & Colman, S. (2005). The changing association between prenatal participation in WIC and birth outcomes in New York City. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 24(4), 663–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Joyce, T., Racine, A., & Yunzal-Butler, C. (2008). Reassessing the WIC effect: Evidence from the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 27(2), 277–303.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kowaleski-Jones, Lori, & Duncan, Greg. (2002). Effects of Participation in the WIC Program on birth weight: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. American Journal of Public Health, 92(5), 799–804.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Ludwig, Jens, & Miller, Matthew. (2005). Interpreting the WIC debate. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 24(4), 691–701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Martin, J., et al. (2013). Assessing the quality of medical and health data from the 2003 birth certificate revision: Results from two states. National Vital Statistics Reports, 62 (2).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Oliveira, V., Racine, E., Olmsted, J., & Ghelfi, L. (2002). The WIC Program: Background and trends, USDA economics research service, food assistance and nutrition research report number 27.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stockbauer, J. W. (1987). WIC prenatal participation and its relation to pregnancy outcomes in Missouri: A second look. American Journal of Public Health, 77(7), 813–818.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    United States Department of Agriculture. (2014). Food and nutrition service. Facts sheet. http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/WIC-Fact-Sheet.pdf. Accessed January 18, 2014.
  23. 23.
    Yunzal-Butler, et al. (2010). Maternal smoking and the timing of WIC enrollment. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 14(3), 318–331.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsSUNY OswegoOswegoUSA

Personalised recommendations