WIC Vouchers and their Purchasing Power Across Metropolitan Areas

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New AAEA Member research published in AJAE

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The researchers found that regional locations could have a impact on how much you can get out of the WIC funding program.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) help provide Federal grants to State government for supplemental foods, healthcare referrals, and nutrition education for low-income families. In a new research article published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics (AJAE), the researchers found that regional locations could have a impact on how much you can get out of the WIC funding program.

Metin Çakır authored “Spatial and Temporal Variation in the Value of the Women, Infants, and Children Program’s Fruit and Vegetable Voucher?” along with 5 other co-authors. They find that there are significant purchasing power differences across regions as cities like Anchorage, New York, Philadelphia, or Honolulu have a higher cost of living but are given the same amount of money through WIC as those in more affordable cities such as Houston or Cincinnati.

“The WIC program was originally designed to ensure that the nutritional value of benefits is the same across the country and remain the same over time. Our results show the range in the purchasing power of a $19 WIC voucher is approximately $4.51.” Çakır continued “this means that a WIC participant in a highest-cost metropolitan area buys approximately 4.3 cups less of fruits and vegetables than the participant that receives the same benefit in the lowest-cost area. We also find that temporal differences in the value of the voucher are not substantially different across the metropolitan areas. Thus, we suggest a straightforward approach to maintaining a roughly constant value of the voucher by first introducing regional vouchers that are proportional to regional price levels, then by automatically adjusting the value of regional vouchers using the national price index for fruits and vegetables.”

If you are interested in setting up an interview Metin Çakır, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit http://www.aaea.org.

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