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      Health Impacts of Food Assistance: Evidence from the United States

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      Annual Review of Resource Economics
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          Abstract

          This review focuses on the health and nutrition impacts of food assistance programs. We focus particular attention on the United States, both because of the plethora of types of programs and associated variation and because spending on these programs is a large share of the nonmedical safety net there. We begin by reviewing the theoretical predictions concerning health and nutrition effects of these programs, also paying attention to potential mediators such as education and income. We then discuss program eligibility and size, both as caseload and in terms of spending. We next touch on identifying causal variation and opportunities for further research. The review concludes by discussing the existing literature in five broad areas: take-up and use of the programs; effects on nutrition and food consumption; other immediate effects on short-run health; impacts on other contemporaneous outcomes such as income and labor supply; and longer-run health and nutrition effects.

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          Most cited references58

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          Poverty impedes cognitive function.

          The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty. We hypothesize that poverty directly impedes cognitive function and present two studies that test this hypothesis. First, we experimentally induced thoughts about finances and found that this reduces cognitive performance among poor but not in well-off participants. Second, we examined the cognitive function of farmers over the planting cycle. We found that the same farmer shows diminished cognitive performance before harvest, when poor, as compared with after harvest, when rich. This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort. Nor can it be explained with stress: Although farmers do show more stress before harvest, that does not account for diminished cognitive performance. Instead, it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks. These data provide a previously unexamined perspective and help explain a spectrum of behaviors among the poor. We discuss some implications for poverty policy.
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            Inside the War on Poverty: The Impact of Food Stamps on Birth Outcomes

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              How Much Does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reduce Food Insecurity?

              Nearly 15% of all U.S. households and 40% of near-poor households were food insecure in 2009. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of federal food assistance programs and serves as the first line of defense against food-related hardship. This paper measures the effectiveness of SNAP in reducing food insecurity using an instrumental variables approach to control for selection. Our results suggest that receipt of SNAP benefits reduces the likelihood of being food insecure by roughly 30% and reduces the likelihood of being very food insecure by 20%.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annual Review of Resource Economics
                Annu. Rev. Resour. Econ.
                Annual Reviews
                1941-1340
                1941-1359
                October 05 2019
                October 05 2019
                : 11
                : 1
                : 261-287
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA;
                [2 ]National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
                Article
                10.1146/annurev-resource-100518-093823
                8d6f3506-8dbf-4d04-8d7c-e002cfe2915e
                © 2019
                History

                Earth & Environmental sciences,Environmental change,General environmental science,Health & Social care,Public health,Infectious disease & Microbiology

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