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Do Walmart Supercenters Improve Food Security?

Charles Courtemanche, 

Art Carden, Xilin Zhou

and Murugi Ndirangu

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This paper examines the effect that Walmart Supercenters, which lower food prices and expand food availability, have on food insecurity. Data come from the 2001–2012 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements matched to Walmart Supercenter entry dates and locations. Using instrumental variables models that leverage Walmart’s predictable expansion pattern outward from corporate headquarters, we find that closer proximity to a Walmart Supercenter improves household and child food security, as measured by affirmative responses to a food insecurity questionnaire and an indicator for food insecurity. The effects are largest among low-income households and children but are also sizeable for middle-income children.

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