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National and State Level Estimates of WIC Eligibility and Program Reach

Data Sampling and Sample Size: Data is not directly collected for this dataset, but rather existing datasets are used to produce estimates of WIC eligibility. For the 2016–2020 estimates presented in these graphics, FNS enhanced the methodologies used to produce the eligibility estimates. The national-level estimates use the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS-ASEC) to produce preliminary counts of the number of eligible infants, children, and pregnant women. These counts are then refined through a series of adjustment factors designed to reflect WIC eligibility requirements and population trends more closely. The number of infants eligible for WIC is then used as the starting point to estimate the number of postpartum women eligible for WIC. Separate estimates are produced for breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women because certification periods and benefits vary for these two groups. State-level estimates are based on the American Community Survey (ACS), and the state’s share of the national total are weighted to the CPS-based estimates.

Dataset Description: Biennial reports by FNS estimating the number of eligible individuals for WIC during an average month of the calendar year. FNS uses estimates of the number of individuals eligible for WIC and the number likely to participate to better predict future funding needs, measure WIC performance, and identify potentially unmet nutrition assistance needs. Dataset includes estimates by participant category. Graphics also provide estimates by state and U.S. territory and by race and ethnicity.

NWA notes on this dataset: This data is a great resource for researchers to understand the demographics of current WIC participants. Graphics on the website are interactive and can be compared across years and geographies. While reports and graphics on the FNS website are helpful background, NWA also encourages researchers to take advantage of the downloadable versions of the dataset, which can be used for additional analysis.

WIC Measures in Dataset: Report provides WIC eligibility, present 2020 national and state estimates of the number of people eligible for WIC benefits, and the percentages of the eligible population and the US population covered by the program. Data is at the aggregate level.

Years available and frequency of data collection: FNS estimates the number of eligible WIC participants every year. This report includes data from 2016 to 2020.

Sample publication using dataset:  This dataset is most commonly used as background data, so there are not independent studies exploring this dataset.

Accessibility: Publicly available on the USDA FNS website at the aggregate level by various characteristics (state, race/ethnicity, participant category, etc). Individual-level data is not available.

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Date Added
August 31, 2023