Mothers as insurance: Family spillovers in WIC

Marianne Bitler, Janet Currie, Hilary Hoynes, Krista Ruffini, Lisa Schulkind, Barton Willage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a widely used program. Previous research shows that WIC improves birth outcomes, but evidence about impacts on older children and their families is limited. We use a regression discontinuity leveraging a loss of benefits at age five when children become ineligible for WIC and examine nutritional and laboratory outcomes for adults and children. We find little impact on children who aged out of the program. But caloric intake falls and food insecurity increases among adult women, suggesting that mothers protect children by consuming less themselves. We find no effect on others in the household.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102784
JournalJournal of Health Economics
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy


  • WIC, spillovers, child nutrition and health, maternal responses


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