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The effect of Medicaid eligibility expansions on fertility

  • Zavodny, Madeline
  • Bitler, Marianne P.

In the United States, pregnant women and children's eligibility for Medicaid was expanded dramatically during the 1980s and early 1990s. By lowering pregnancy and child health care costs, the Medicaid expansions may have increased the incentives for women to have children. To investigate this possibility, we examine whether state-level birth and abortion rates are related to the extent of states' Medicaid eligibility expansions and the fraction of women eligible for Medicaid, controlling for economic and demographic factors, during the period 1982 to 1996. We examine birth rates by race, marital status and education as well as overall abortion rates. We find little evidence that the Medicaid expansions led to changes in birth rates or abortion rates. However, some results do suggest that the Medicaid expansions boosted the birth rate among white women who have not completed high school. We find that restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortions decrease abortion rates and increase birth rates. The results thus do not provide definitive evidence that expansions in public health insurance eligibility have sizable effects on women's fertility.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 71 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 918-924

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:71:y:2010:i:5:p:918-924
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