2000–2001 Funded Proposals

The Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture sponsor a competition that provides small grants for research on poverty and food assistance programs. Three or four grants are offered for research during the academic year. Grants are in amounts of $30,000 to $50,000 maximum.

Final reports for these projects appear as IRP Discussion Papers (titles may differ; see links below).

Proposals funded for the Period July 1, 2000 - December 31, 2001 are:


How Should We Measure Hunger?
Jayanta Bhattacharya and Steven Haider, RAND, Santa Monica, CA

Final report: DP 1252-02

A growing literature is focusing on measuring hunger and "food security" in the United States. These studies focus on a clearly defined concept of deprivation--the lack of adequate resources for food--and use survey questions to elicit information. Yet little is known about the relationship between these questions and more objective measures, such as food consumption and clinical outcomes (e.g., mineral deficiencies), and it is not clear whether survey questions represent an improvement over more traditional, income-based measures. This research will address two specific questions: What is the correlation among the various measures of impoverishment? How well do these measures predict clinical outcomes related to food deprivation? Three classes of measures will be considered: income-based, consumption-based, and food security-based. The project will use data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III.

Measuring the Impact of WIC Participation on the Initiation and Duration of Breastfeeding
Pinka Chatterji and Karen Bonuck, Montefiore Medical Center, New York

Final report: DP 1246-02

Using data from two surveys, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the research will test the hypothesis that participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) leads to increases in initiation and duration of breastfeeding. Previous research has indicated that WIC participants are less likely than nonparticipants to initiate and continue breastfeeding. This study will build on that research in three ways: it will make use of more recent data, allowing an assessment of current efforts in WIC to promote breastfeeding; it will consider the impact of state-level WIC eligibility and administration policies on breastfeeding practices; and it will employ two empirical methods, instrumental variables and fixed-effects mdels, to help account for the self-selection of mothers in the WIC program.

Moderating the Effects of Food Insecurity on Child Outcomes: The Role of Food Assistance Programs
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah, and Rachel Dunifon and Mary Corcoran, University of Michigan

Final report: DP 1249-02

Although the impact of food insecurity on children has become an important research issue, few studies have evaluated the link between food insecurity and children's development. Using data from the 1997 Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this project will examine three questions: What is the role of WIC and the National School Lunch Program in alleviating food insecurity? What is the effect of food insecurity on the development of toddlers and children of school age? Does participation in WIC or the School Lunch program moderate the impact of food insecurity on children's health and behavioral and cognitive outcomes? Instrumental variables regression techniques will be used to address the issue of selective enrollment of families in these programs.