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Social networks, information and health care utilization: Evidence from undocumented immigrants in Milan

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  • Devillanova, Carlo

Abstract

This paper uses a novel dataset and research design to examine the effects of information networks on immigrants' access to health care. The dataset consists of an unusually large sample of undocumented immigrants and contains a direct indicator of information networks--whether an immigrant was referred to health care opportunities by a strong social tie (relative or friend). This measure allows to overcome some of the major identification issues that afflict most of the existing literature on network effects and to concentrate on one of the channels through which social contacts might operate. The analysis focuses on the time spent in Italy before an immigrant first receives medical assistance. Estimates indicate that networks significantly foster health care utilization: after controlling for all available individual characteristics and for ethnic heterogeneity, I find that relying on a strong social tie reduces the time to visit by 30%. The effect of information networks is stable across specifications and it is relatively large. Further investigation seems to confirm the quantitative importance of networks as an information device.

Suggested Citation

  • Devillanova, Carlo, 2008. "Social networks, information and health care utilization: Evidence from undocumented immigrants in Milan," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 265-286, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:2:p:265-286
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    Cited by:

    1. Gil S. Epstein & Odelia Heizler (Cohen), 2013. "Minimum wages and the creation of illegal migration," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(1), pages 434-441.
    2. Patti Meyer, 2015. "Eldercare, immigration, and health care in Italy: How the Italian state creates and mitigates inequality," Economic Anthropology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(2), pages 343-358, June.
    3. Simone Cremaschi & Carlo Devillanova, 2016. "Immigrants and Legal Status: Do Personal Contacts Matter?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1629, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    4. Johnston, David W. & Lordan, Grace, 2012. "Discrimination makes me sick! An examination of the discrimination–health relationship," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 99-111.
    5. Slotwinski, Michaela & Schmidheiny, Kurt, 2014. "Behavioral Responses to Local Tax Rates: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Foreigners Tax Scheme in Switzerland," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100292, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Delia Furtado & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2012. "Immigrant Networks and the Take-Up of Disability Programs: Evidence from US Census Data," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 09-2012, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    7. Marianne Schoevers & Maartje Loeffen & Maria Muijsenbergh & Antoine Lagro-Janssen, 2010. "Health care utilisation and problems in accessing health care of female undocumented immigrants in the Netherlands," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 55(5), pages 421-428, October.
    8. Pen-Jen Wang & Yiing-Jenq Chou & Cheng-Hua Lee & Christy Pu, 2010. "Diffusion of new medication across different income groups under a universal health insurance program: an example involving newly enlisted nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for elderly osteoarthrit," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 55(5), pages 497-506, October.
    9. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_119 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Muzhe Yang & Hsien-Ming Lien & Shin-Yi Chou, 2014. "Is There A Physician Peer Effect? Evidence From New Drug Prescriptions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 116-137, January.
    11. Devillanova, Carlo & Fasani, Francesco & Frattini, Tommaso, 2014. "Employment of Undocumented Immigrants and the Prospect of Legal Status: Evidence from an Amnesty Program," IZA Discussion Papers 8151, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. repec:spr:soinre:v:134:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1454-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Adelman, Sarah, 2013. "Keep your friends close: The effect of local social networks on child human capital outcomes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 284-298.
    14. Ciro Avitabile & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2008. "Screening Tests, Information, and the Health-Education Gradient," CSEF Working Papers 187, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 28 Apr 2008.
    15. Gee Emily R. & Giuntella G. Osea, 2011. "Medicaid and Ethnic Networks," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-31, December.
    16. Marianna Battaglia, 2015. "Migration, health knowledge and teenage fertility: evidence from Mexico," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 179-206, June.
    17. Zaiceva, A. & Zimmermann, K.F., 2016. "Migration and the Demographic Shift," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
    18. Edmonds, Joyce K. & Hruschka, Daniel & Bernard, H. Russell & Sibley, Lynn, 2012. "Women’s social networks and birth attendant decisions: Application of the Network-Episode Model," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 452-459.

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