Do Targeted Vouchers Instill Habits? Evidence from Women, Infants, and Children

We examine whether programs that provide vouchers to households continue to influence behavior after the household leaves the program. Using detailed scanner data, we test whether benefit vouchers received through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) change household purchasing decisions and whether these changes persist even after households are no longer eligible to participate in the program. In 2009, the package of goods available through WIC vouchers changed. Examining variation due to this package change, we show that the WIC vouchers change purchasing decisions during eligibility, but that effects fade after eligibility ends.