WIC Eligibility and Participation

Published in: Journal of Human Resources, v 38, Suppl. 2003, p. 1139-1179

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by Marianne P. Bitler, Janet Currie, John Karl Scholz

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The authors examine WIC eligibility and participation using the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and state-level administrative data. Comparisons suggest significant undercounts in CPS and SIPP, although characteristics of WIC participants are similar to those in administrative data. This suggests that the undercount is approximately random, at least with respect to observables. WIC take-up is lower for children aged one to four, suggesting substantial scope for expanding participation by eligibles. States with stricter WIC-eligibility rules have lower participation, but a striking degree of state-to-state variation in participation rates remains unexplained

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