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Food insecurity in households with young children: A test of contextual congruence

Justin T. Denney, Mackenzie Brewer and Rachel Tolbert Kimbro

Social Science & Medicine, 2020, vol. 263, issue C

Abstract: Household food insecurity, an inability to provide adequate nutrition for a healthy, active lifestyle, affects nearly 1 in 7 households with children in the United States. Though rates of food insecurity declined to pre-recession levels just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now once again increasing. As a result, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, millions of young children continue to grow up in households that struggle daily with a problem that is often associated with the developing world. The result is both immediate and long-term health and development deficits for children. We propose that the degree of demographic and socioeconomic congruence between the households of young children and their neighborhood of residence lends unique insights to food insecurity. We examine this using the ECLS-K 2010–2011 for children in families with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty line (N = 8600). Results show that congruence between household and neighborhood education and race/ethnicity associates with the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity. For example, households with non-Hispanic black children living in neighborhoods with high proportions of non-Hispanic blacks have significantly lower probabilities of food insecurity than similar households living in neighborhoods with smaller black populations. Similarly, more highly educated families experience lower probability of food insecurity in high education neighborhoods than when they reside in low education neighborhoods. Focusing on neighborhood risk factors as absolute and independent contributors limits our understanding of how families experience food insecurity as well as any policy efforts to address it.

Keywords: Food insecurity; Socioeconomic status; Race/ethnicity; Neighborhoods (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113275

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