The Gendered Health Benefits of WIC Participation

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Christina Robinson

Abstract

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a food assistance program designed to help pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and young children consume a nutritious diet. Food, however, is often a communal commodity shared by all household members and the benefits received by a participant child are often shared with WIC-ineligible family members. In some, but not all instances this sharing is found to impose a cost on the enrolled child. This paper uses data from the 2013 wave of the National Health Interview Survey to identify how the health benefits of WIC participation depend on the gender of the participant child. Results indicate that WIC participation improves a male child's overall health but does not do the same for female children, suggesting that gender is an important determinant in the realization of health benefits associated with WIC. (I10, I30, I38)

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