2006–2007 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 amount of $30,000 for research during the academic year. Its application deadline was May 1, 2006. An online version of the guidelines for application for that competition are available. Abstracts of funded proposals can be viewed for academic years 2005-2006 and earlier.

Proposals funded for the period July 1, 2006 - December 31, 2007:


The Effects of the Food Stamp Program on Weight Gained by Expectant Mothers
Charles L. Baum, Middle Tennessee State University

Final Report: DP 1343-08

This study will examine the effects of the Food Stamp Program on the amount of weight gained by mothers (of singleton live births) during their pregnancy, using data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Because food stamp benefits may affect pregnancy weight gain by increasing the rate of gain and by lengthening the pregnancy, a portion of the models will estimate the partial effect of benefits on weight gain by holding pregnancy length constant. Supplemental models will (1) examine whether benefits have different effects for mothers with different pre-pregnancy weights (underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese), (2) examine whether the effects of these benefits depend on pregnancy-trimester of receipt, and (3) simultaneously assess the effect of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Food Stamps, Quality of Food Consumption, and Obesity
Neeraj Kaushal, Columbia University

This project examines the effect of changes in the food stamp caseload induced by welfare reform on the quantity and quality of food consumption and prevalence of obesity in low-educated, single-mother families. The study will use two data sets: Consumer Expenditure Survey data for 1993-2001 and National Health Interview Survey data for the same years. A comparison research design will separate the effect of factors contemporaneous with welfare reform from its effect on quantity and quality of food consumption and obesity.

Measuring the Impacts of Stigma and Time Cost in the Food Stamp Enrollment Decision
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, University of Chicago

Final Report: DP 1367-09

This project will conduct a randomized trial of a food stamp outreach program during the 2007 tax season, in partnership with H&R Block, to measure the fraction of eligible low-income working families who are enrolled in the program in San Francisco and Alameda counties, CA. Low-income clients who come to H&R Block to prepare their taxes and who appear to be eligible for food stamps will be given information about the program. The context of providing information about the program will be varied, and various levels of assistance with filing the paperwork will be given, ranging from no special assistance to actually filing the application on the client’s behalf. This experiment can provide useful information to policymakers as they assess the potential effect of simplifying enrollment procedures and of marketing campaigns. It can also inform the economics literature about the magnitude of stigma effects and enrollment costs on program participation.

The Effects of School Feeding Programs and Maternal Employment on Children’s Meal and Activity Patterns
Geetha M. Waehrer, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

Final Report: DP 1360-08

Using time diary information from the 2002 Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this study will analyze schoolchildren’s eating and activity patterns in connection with the School Breakfast Program and with maternal employment. Research has been inconclusive on the question of whether the breakfast program increases the likelihood of eating breakfast among participating children. Hypothesized mechanisms for a causal effect of maternal employment on childhood obesity include unhealthy snacking and reduced physical activity among the unsupervised children of working women. The project will use 24-hour time diaries for 1 weekday and 1 weekend day for approximately 2,850 children ages 6-18. Endogeneity in program participation will be accounted for by comparing differences in breakfast patterns between weekdays (when school breakfasts are available) and weekends (when they are not available) among program participants and nonparticipants. A similar strategy will exploit the reduction in work effort from weekdays to weekends to estimate maternal employment effects.