Child Age and Gender Differences in Food Security in a Low-Income Inner-City Population

Robert A. Moffitt, David C. Ribar

NBER Working Paper No. 22988
Issued in December 2016, Revised in April 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Economics

A long literature in economics studies differential allocations of resources to children within the family. In a study of approximately 1,600 very disadvantaged households with children in three cities in the U.S. from 1999 to 2005, significant differences in levels of food allocation, as measured by an indicator of food “insecurity,” are found across children of different ages and genders. Using answers to unique survey questions for a specific child in the household, food insecurity levels are much higher among older children than among younger ones, and to be sometimes higher among older boys than among older girls. Allocations are strongly correlated with the dietary needs of the child as well as with household structure and the level of family organization. However, the differences appear only in the poorest households with the lowest levels of money income and household resources in general, and most differences disappear in significance or are greatly reduced in magnitude when resources rise to only modest levels.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22988

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