Panel Paper: Parental Incarceration and Racial Disparities in Food Insecurity

Monday, June 13, 2016 : 2:35 PM
Clement House, 7th Floor, Room 03 (London School of Economics)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Robynn Cox, University of Southern California
It is unclear why some poor households experience food insecurity while others do not.   Characteristics of households suffering from food insecurity overlap with those going through an incarceration.  Although minorities experience greater rates of food insecurity, there is a paucity of research on the racial disparities of food insecurity.  New research by Cox and Wallace (2016) suggests that the shock of a parental incarceration to the household increases the likelihood of food insecurity among households with children by 4 percentage points.  However, it is unclear exactly what role incarceration plays in the racial differences in food insecurity.  This paper uses decomposition techniques to understand these differences.  In particular, a modified Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition for non-linear dependent variables is implemented to estimate the difference in food insecurity between blacks and whites.  Preliminary results suggest that incarceration may explain roughly 9% of the difference in food insecurity between blacks and whites.  Additional variables that significantly contribute to the racial gap in food insecurity are parental education (approximately 17%), and log parental earnings (approximately 24%).