Three essays in health and nutrition economics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matthew P. Rabbitt (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
David Ribar

Abstract: This dissertation focuses on aspects of behavior and public policy related to vulnerable populations. The first essay, coauthored with Christian Gregory and David C. Ribar, reviews recent theory and empirical evidence regarding the effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation on food insecurity and replicates the modelling strategies used in the empirical literature. We find that recent evidence suggesting the ameliorative effect of SNAP on food insecurity may not be robust to specification choice or data. Most specifications mirror the existing literature in finding a positive association of food insecurity with SNAP participation. Two-stage least squares and control function methods do show that SNAP reduces food insecurity, but effects are not consistent across sub-populations and are not always statistically significant. In the second essay, I examine the relationship between SNAP participation and food insecurity using data from the 2001-2008 Current Population Survey (CPS-FSS). A behavioral Rasch selection model is proposed and estimated using four subsamples of low-income households: unmarried parent households, married parent households, all-elderly households, and other adult-only households. The behavioral Rasch selection model assumes responses to multiple food hardship questions may be modelled as indicators of a single underlying index of food hardships, and concurrently, controls for the endogeneity of program participation. Simultaneously modelling the outcomes this way leads to more efficient estimation. The models are identified using exogenous changes in state-level polices related to SNAP. The results suggest that SNAP has a strong ameliorative effect on food insecurity for married parent households, all-elderly households, and other adult-only households, while SNAP continues to be associated with greater food hardships for unmarried parent households. Participating in SNAP reduces the probability of food insecurity by 22.4% for other adult-only households, 18% for all-elderly households, and 17% for married parent households. The third and final essay examines the relationship between underage college drinking and the initial occupational choices of male college graduates using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97). Focusing on recent college graduates and their initial occupational choices allows me to address important timing issues not considered by the existing literature. For the multivariate analyses, I estimate multinomial logistic models of occupational choice, where the occupational choice set is specified as employed full-time in white collar occupations, other occupations, enrolled in school, and neither in school nor employed full-time. In addition, I estimate multinomial logistic selection models that control for the potential endogeneity of underage drinking. The results suggest underage college drinking is not associated with young men's initial occupational choices, with the exception of the decision to be enrolled in school. Young men with any underage college days where they drank two or more drinks are 28.9% less likely to be enrolled in school after completing a bachelor's degree.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Alcohol, Dummy endogenous variable models, Food insecurity, Occupational choice, SNAP
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (U.S.) $x Evaluation
Food security $z United States
Food relief $z United States
Poor $x Nutrition $z United States
Male college students $x Alcohol use $z United States
College graduates $x Employment $z United States
Alcoholism and employment $z United States

Email this document to