Snap Generosity and Infant Mortality Rates in U.S. States

Patricia Homan , Florida State University
Megan Reynolds, University of Utah

America’s infant mortality rate (IMR) is among the worst in the developed world. Health scholars have begun to document the contribution of social policies to the U.S.’s lagging IMRs and to population health more generally. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spending may be particularly beneficial for reducing IMRs given its role in both providing nourishment to pregnant mothers and reducing stress associated with food insecurity and financial hardship. Yet, despite the growing cross-national literature on how social policies effects health and the myriad mechanisms through which SNAP is expected to affect wellbeing, research on SNAP and infant mortality in the U.S. remains extremely limited. We use fixed-effects regression models and novel data on state-level SNAP generosity derived from administrative sources to examine the impact of this type of social spending on IMRs in U.S. states. Results show a negative association between state SNAP spending and infant mortality.

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 Presented in Session 239. Flash Session: Social Policy and Child Well-being