UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Xuemei Li, University of California, Davis

Impacts of Electronic Benefit Transfer on the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program: Evidence from Oklahoma

Date and Location

Thursday, December 5, 2019, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has mandated changes to its food issuance and redemption method from paper vouchers to electronic benefit transfer (EBT) by 2020. This paper focuses on the changes in WIC program participation and program food costs after EBT transition. Both topics are of considerable importance because program participation has been declining since 2010. As a non-entitlement program, WIC program cost containment is essential to expand its programs and serve more eligible participants. County level WIC enrollment data and WIC food issuance and redemption data in Oklahoma are used to perform the empirical analysis. The transition to EBT is anticipated to increase participation and decrease food costs because it provides WIC participants more flexibility in redeeming food benefits, reduces the time cost and stigma cost of WIC participants, and prevents redemption of expensive, non-WIC-eligible food items. However, I find no statistically significant increase in program participation after EBT transition. But EBT reduces average participant food costs about $8.24 per month. Applying this number to WIC participants in all the states, generates about $56 million in cost savings annually.

Contact Us

2116 Social Sciences and Humanities
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

Main Office: 530-752-1515
Student Advising Services: 530-754-9536
DeLoach Conference Room: 530-752-2916
Main Conference Room: 530-754-1850