Arnold Kling

Fighting Hunger to Excess

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Douglas Besharov says that when it comes to fighting hunger in the United States, we may be overdoing it.

About 65 percent of all Americans are overweight, and nearly half of those are obese. The best estimates place the rates for the poor at 5 to 10 percentage points higher. Adolescents from needy families are twice as likely to be overweight. Yet today, low-income families have access to more free or low-cost food than ever before, and many can be enrolled in all three federal feeding programs at the same time...

Discussion Question. Besharov suggests that if we converted food programs to cash grants, poor people would choose more wisely and cut back on food consumption. Does a similar argument apply to other in-kind benefits? Instead of providing health insurance to the poor, should we be providing cash grants and letting them choose?

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