Childhood Hunger and Adult Crime: The Impact of the Food Stamp Program
Barr and Smith (2021) #JHR_Threads explainer
This week’s #JHR_Threads will review a forthcoming article in the Journal of Human Resources by Andrew Barr and Alexander Smith entitled “Fighting Crime in the Cradle: The Effects of Early Childhood Access to Nutritional Assistance”.
Economists love to say “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. We often use it to describe the opportunity cost of scarce resources, but it is also literally true, and therefore hunger and poverty are usually positively correlated. This is because without income and work, there can be no trips to the grocer. And without ingredients, there can be no meals. And without regular meals, children eke out a level of consumption so small, they grow up malnourished and live below the biological minimum level needed for child development. Poverty, through malnourishment and stunted child development, can can make life feel hopeless, and hopelessness can make desperate choices appear best.