Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Angela Daley

Second Committee Member

Jonathan Malacarne

Third Committee Member

Caroline Noblet


Food insecurity is a persistent public health problem, and it adversely affects multiple dimensions of health and well-being across various stages of life. Socio-economic characteristics is one of the key predictors of food insecurity and there exists a strong association between income and food insecurity. Since food insecurity is closely linked to deprivation of financial resources, research has been continued to examine the potential of government income support policies in mitigating food insecurity. Several studies have already demonstrated that income interventions alleviate household-level food insecurity. However, little is known about how these public policies affect adults and children, within the households, respectively. Using the Universal Child Care Benefit as an exogenous income shock, we estimate the relationship between income and food insecurity separately for adults and children.

In Chapter 1, we use data from the public-use microdata files of the Canadian Community Health Survey (2005-2012) and employ a standard difference-in-differences methodology to assess the impact of a universal income transfer on food insecurity at the adult, child, and household levels. In 2006, the Canadian federal government introduced the Universal Child Care Benefit as an income support for families with children below the age of six years. This policy provided families with a monthly taxable benefit of $100 for each child, regardless of socio-economic conditions. We quantify the effects of this income transfer using two measures of self-reported food insecurity: a four-level categorical measurement (i.e., food-secure, marginally food-insecure, moderately food-insecure and severely food-insecure) and a continuous food insecurity scale. Our results based on both measures suggest that the transfer reduced the prevalence and severity of food insecurity at the child-level. The policy change increased the probability of being food secure and reduced the likelihood of experiencing any form of food insecurity for children from eligible households.

In Chapter 2, we address the heterogeneity in the impact of the income transfer on food insecurity across households. Using the same dataset from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2005-2012) and again utilizing a difference-in-differences method, we estimate the policy effects across subpopulations differentiated based on living arrangements, highest educational attainment in the household and household income. Our findings from subgroup analyses reveal disparities in the policy impact and indicate statistically significant reductions in child-level food insecurity among two-parent households, those with secondary education and those with household income at or above the median. These heterogeneous estimates suggest that the universal income transfer likely could not lead to substantial improvements in food security for vulnerable subpopulations.

Both chapter findings illustrate the need for disaggregating the food insecurity effects of income supplement and similar public policy interventions by different levels within and across households to help policymakers design better informed and targeted interventions.