Food insufficiency, food stamp participation, and mental health

Colleen M. Heflin, James P. Ziliak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study examines whether the mental health consequences associated with food insufficiency vary by food stamp participation status and/or the value of the food stamp benefit received. Methods. We use longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics along with fixed-effect methods that control for unobserved heterogeneity to test our hypotheses. Results. We find that, conditional on the food stamp benefit amount, the emotional distress associated with food insufficiency is higher among food stamp participants. Moreover, we find evidence of a dosage effect such that food-insufficient individuals who receive higher amounts of food stamp benefits suffer greater emotional distress than food-insufficient individuals who receive lower levels of food stamp benefits. However, the negative mental health effects of food insufficiency and food stamp participation are driven primarily by periods of transition onto the Food Stamp Program and into food insufficiency. Conclusions. The negative mental health aspects of participating in the Food Stamp Program seem to outweigh the positive mental health aspects, at least during the period of application and initial receipt, suggesting that programmatic reform is needed to improve overall well-being among new participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-727
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Food insufficiency, food stamp participation, and mental health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this