The impact of the Food Stamp program on infant outcomes

The impact of the Food Stamp program on infant outcomes


This project seeks to evaluate the health impact of a signature initiative of the War on Poverty: the roll out of the modern Food Stamp Program (FSP) during the 1960s and early 1970s. Using variation in the month the FSP began operating in each U.S. county, we find that pregnancies exposed to a new FSP three months prior to birth yielded deliveries with increased birth weight. Estimated impacts are robust to inclusion of county fixed effects, measures of other federal transfer spending, and time effects (among them county-specific time trends). The response of birth outcomes to FSP implementation was prompt — an event study analysis indicates that pregnancies already in the third trimester when a FSP opened were impacted. We conclude that Food Stamps improved birth outcomes for both Whites and African Americans, with larger impacts for births to African American mothers.


  • Principal investigator: Douglas Almond
  • Researchers: Hilary Hoynes, Diane Whitmore-Schazenbach