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Does the Food Stamp Program Really Increase Obesity? The Importance of Accounting for Misclassification Errors

Vassilopoulos, Achilleas and Drichoutis, Andreas and Nayga, Rodolfo and Lazaridis, Panagiotis (2011): Does the Food Stamp Program Really Increase Obesity? The Importance of Accounting for Misclassification Errors.

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Abstract

Over the last few decades, the prevalence of obesity among US citizens has grown rapidly, especially among low-income individuals. This has led to questions about the effectiveness of nutritional assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamps Program (FSP). Results from previous studies generally suggest that FSP participation increases obesity. This finding is however based on analyses that assumed that participants do not misclassify their program participation. Significant misclassification errors have been reported in the literature. Using propensity score matching estimation and a new method to conduct extensive sensitivity analysis, we find that this finding is quite sensitive to misclassification errors above 10% and to functional form assumptions.

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