A difference-in-differences approach to estimate the effect of income-supplementation on food insecurity

Prev Med. 2015 Jan;70:108-16. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.11.017. Epub 2014 Dec 1.


Objective: The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) is a 2006 Canadian federal policy of income supplementation that provides parents with $100 monthly in Canadian dollars for each child aged <6years. The study main objective was to estimate the causal effect of UCCB on self-reported food insecurity overall and in vulnerable subgroups.

Method: The Canadian Community Health Survey (2001-2009) was used to conduct a difference-in-differences (DID) regression analysis for the effect of the UCCB on self-reported food insecurity. Respondents were ages ≥12 in families with at least one child aged <6years (UCCB-eligible, n=22,737) or a child aged 6-11 but no child <6years (control group, n=17,664).

Results: Over the study period 16.3% of respondents experienced some level of food insecurity. Overall, UCCB reduced the proportion of respondents reporting food insecurity by 2.4% (95% CI: -4.0%, -0.9%). There was a significantly stronger impact on food insecurity for respondents from households with yearly income below the population median (-4.3%, 95% CI: -7.2%, -1.4%) and respondents from single parent families (-5.4%, 95% CI: -10.3%, -0.6%).

Conclusion: We found that a relatively small monthly income supplementation results in a significant reduction in food insecurity at the population level, with larger effects in vulnerable groups.

Keywords: Causal effects; Difference-in-differences; Food insecurity; Income supplementation policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Control Groups
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Financing, Government*
  • Food Supply / economics*
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Poverty*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Single-Parent Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult