2003–2004 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 have for several years sponsored a competition that provides small grants for research on poverty and food assistance programs. This year's competition offered grants in amounts of $25,000 to $35,000 for research during the academic year. Its application deadline was May 1, 2003. An online version of the guidelines for application for that competition are available. Abstracts of funded proposals can be viewed for academic years 2002-2003 and earlier.

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

Proposals funded for the period July 1, 2003 - December 31, 2004:

Social and Policy Contributions to the Rise in the Prevalence of the U.S. Population Overweight and/or Obese: An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis
Beth Osborne Daponte, Yale University, and Andrew Cook, Carnegie Mellon University

Final report: DP 1296-05

Over the past twenty-five years, the proportion of U.S. children and adults overweight or obese has risen dramatically among children and adults in the United States. This research will use information from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to create an age-by-year matrix of overweight and obesity rates from 1971 to 2001, permitting examination of overweight and obesity as cohorts age through the life course. Analysis of these data will address three questions: (1) When did these changes in prevalence occur? (2) Which ages have been most affected? (3) Did the changes alter the trajectory of being overweight or obese over the life course? The research will next examine relevant social changes and policy interventions that have occurred since 1971, such as reliance on fast foods, changes in the food pyramid, decreases in activity levels, food marketing strategies, and technological changes, and will attempt to assess the influence of these factors on overweight and obesity.

How Hungry Are Our Children? WIC, Breastfeeding, and Food Insecurity in the United States
Christina Gibson, Duke University

A well-known problem for researchers evaluating the effectiveness of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is selection bias. If the mothers who use WIC are among the more disadvantaged, the effects of the program may be biased downward, but if mothers who are more advantaged tend to use WIC in order to promote their children's well-being, the effects may be biased upward. This study will address this problem by using an instrumental variables regression approach to analyze the effects of WIC on breastfeeding and food insecurity. Data will be taken from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort.

The Use of Twins to Understand the Effect of WIC on Birth Outcomes
Ted Joyce and Diane Gibson, Baruch College, City University of New York

Final Report: DP 1301-05

This study will use birth outcomes among twins to test the association between infant health and prenatal participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Although twin deliveries represent less than 2 percent of all live births, the rate of low birth weight is over 50 percent among twins in the United States as compared to 6 percent for singletons. Women pregnant with twins have 2.4 times the risk of anemia and are expected to gain more weight for optimal outcomes than women of single gestations. If WIC improves birth outcomes by increasing caloric intake and limiting iron and folate deficiencies, better fetal growth should be observed among twins whose mothers participated in WIC relative to poor and near-poor women, also pregnant with twins, who did not participate in WIC. Data are from New York City birth certificates from 1988 to 2001, during which there were more than 40,000 deliveries with twins.

Does WIC Reduce Prenatal Substance Abuse?
Geetha Waehrer, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

With data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, this project will examine the effect of pregnant women's participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on prenatal use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. Prenatal exposure to alcohol, drugs, and tobacco is one of the leading preventable causes of birth defects, mental retardation, and neurodevelopment disorders in the United States. Two-stage instrumental variable models will be used to control for sample selection into the pool of WIC participants. The effectiveness of state WIC policies and state approaches toward prenatal substance use will also be examined.