Does Participation in Transfer Programs During Pregnancy Improve Birth Weight?

Janet Currie, Nancy Cole

NBER Working Paper No. 3832
Issued in September 1991
NBER Program(s):The Health Economics Program, The Labor Studies Program

A primary goal of transfer programs to the non-aged, non-disabled poor in the United States is to improve the well-being of children in poor families. Thus it is surprising that most of the considerable research which has been devoted to the study of transfer programs focuses on the incentive effects of the programs for parents rather than on the question of whether parental participation in such programs measurably benefits children. This paper begins to fill this gap in the literature by examining the relationship between a mother's participation during pregnancy in Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the Food Stamp Program, or housing assistance, and one of the least controversial measures of child welfare: the birth weight. We do not find any statistically significant relationship between a mother's participation in these programs during pregnancy and the birth weight of her child. However, it should be kept in mind that birth weight is only one measure of child welfare and that these entitlement programs may well have positive impacts on the health and development of children once they are born.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3832

Published: American Economic Review, Sept. 1993

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