Food insecurity and housing instability in vulnerable families
Reducing the prevalence of household food insecurity has been a long-standing objective of the federal government. Previous research has found many negative consequences of food insecurity for families and households but has not examined its relationship with housing instability. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, difference-in-difference models show that food insecurity is associated with housing instability. The association remains statistically significant after accounting for potential selection and unobserved heterogeneity using propensity score matching and excluding households that experienced prior housing instability from the sample. Examining potential mediating factors, I find that material hardship explains about half of this association. These findings suggest that maintaining a strong social safety net would reduce the risk that families experience material hardship and housing instability, which may also reduce the risk of homelessness.
KeywordsFood insecurity Housing instability Material hardship Consumption Poverty
Mathematics Subject ClassificationI30 I32 J38
I would like to thank Greg Lewis and Sara Markowitz for their helpful comments and suggestions on an early draft. I am very grateful for comments and suggestions provided by two anonymous reviewers and the co-editor (Prof. George Davis), which greatly improved the version originally submitted. Access to the contract data was provided by the Bendheim-Thoman Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University. The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study was funded by Grant R01 HD36916 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and a consortium of private foundations.
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