Identifying the Effects of Food Stamps on the Nutritional Health of Children when Program participation is Misreported Sep 14, 2019 By John PepperCraig GundersenDean JolliffeBrent Kreider Identifying the Effects of Food Stamps on the Nutritional Health of Children when Program participation is Misreported The literature assessing the efficacy of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, has long puzzled over positive associations between SNAP receipt and various undesirable health outcomes such as food insecurity. Assessing the causal impacts of SNAP, however, is hampered by two key identification problems: endogenous selection into participation and extensive systematic underreporting of participation status.Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), we extend partial identification bounding methods to account for these two identification problems in a single unifying framework. Specifically, we derive informative bounds on the average treatment effect of SNAP on child food insecurity, general poor health, obesity, and anemia across a range of different assumptions used to address the selection and classification error problems. In particular, to address the selection problem we apply relatively weak nonparametric assumptions on the latent outcomes, selected treatments, and observed covariates. To address the classification error problem, we formalize a new approach that uses auxiliary administrative data on the size of the SNAP caseload to restrict the magnitudes and patterns of SNAP reporting errors. Layering successively stronger assumptions, an objective of our analysis is to make transparent how the strength of the conclusions varies with the strength of the identifying assumptions. Under the weakest restrictions, there is substantial ambiguity: we cannot rule out the possibility that SNAP increases or decreases poor health. Under stronger but plausible assumptions used to address the selection and classification error problems, we find that commonly cited relationships between SNAP and poor health outcomes provide a misleading picture about the true impacts of the program. Our tightest bounds identify favorable impacts of SNAP on child health. Journal of the American Statistical Association Journal of the American Statistical Association Areas of focus Health Policy John Pepper John V. Pepper is a professor of economics and public policy at the Batten School and a professor of economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Virginia. His work examines identification problems that arise when evaluating a wide range of public policy questions including such subjects as health and disability programs, welfare policies (e.g., SNAP), and drug and crime policies. Read full bio Craig Gundersen Dean Jolliffe Brent Kreider Related Content John Pepper Deterrence and the Death Penalty: Partial Identification Analysis Using Repeated Cross Sections Research Objectives Researchers have used repeated cross sectional observations of homicide rates and sanctions to examine the deterrent effect of the adoption and implementation of death penalty statutes. The empirical literature, however, has failed to achieve consensus. The Economics of Food Insecurity in the United States Research Food insecurity is experienced by millions of Americans and has increased dramatically in recent years. Due to its prevalence and many demonstrated negative health consequences, food insecurity is one of the most important nutrition-related public health issues in the U.S.