A cautionary tale: Using propensity scores to estimate the effect of food stamps on food insecurity


Journal Article

This article uses propensity scores to evaluate the effect of food stamps on food insecurity, a measure of inadequate food supply. It relies on data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. By balancing treatment and comparison groups on covariates, the propensity score method adjusts for bias caused by observed variables. This method may be preferable to regression because it does not rely on a linear functional form to adjust for potential confounding variables. Results show that food stamps do not decrease the probability of being food insecure, although they lessen the severity of the problem according to some models. However, propensity scores rely on several stringent assumptions, including the need for a common support region (where two compared groups share the same characteristics) and a properly specified model. Propensity scores should therefore be employed with caution. © 2006 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gibson-Davis, CM; Foster, EM

Published Date

  • March 1, 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 80 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 93 - 126

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0037-7961

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/499416

Citation Source

  • Scopus