Effects of Maternal Depression on Family Food Insecurity
Theory suggests that adverse life events—such as unemployment or health shocks—can result in food insecurity, which has increased substantially in the U.S. over the past decade alongside the obesity epidemic. We test this proposition by estimating the effects of a specific and salient mental health event—maternal depression during the postpartum year—on child and family food insecurity. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Birth Cohort, we estimate the effects of maternal depression on food insecurity using both single- and two-stage models, and explore potential buffering effects of relevant public assistance programs and supports. We find that moderate to severe maternal depression increases the likelihood that children and households experience any food insecurity—by between 50 and 80%, depending on the measure of food insecurity. We also find that maternal depression increases the likelihood of reliance on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Medicaid; and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, suggesting that these programs play a buffering role.
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This paper was revised on June 7, 2014
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20113