Long Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net


Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Douglas Almond, Hilary Hoynes


adult health, cash transfers, diabetes, health and inequity, metabolic syndrome, national government expenditures, obesity, poverty, SNAP, welfare programs


American Economic Review

Year Published:


Policy Summary

Research has established the causal link betweeen in utero stress on future negative health outcomes of the fetus. The authors analyzed data (and adjusting for many confounders) on food stamp reciepients and determined that there was a significant reduction in metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes) in adults that received food stamp benefits when they were 0-5 years old. In particular, food stamps helped increase the economic freedom of women. Additionally, children that had parents that recieved food stamps went on to become adults with increased educational attainment and income, plus were less likely to rely on the welfare system. The authors determined that food stamps had the greatest positive health impact when they occured between conception and age 5. This study’s results have important national safety net policy implications.

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