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The effect of Medicaid eligibility expansions on births

  • Marianne Bitler
  • Madeline Zavodny

In an effort to increase the use of prenatal care by pregnant women and the utilization of medical care by children, eligibility for Medicaid was expanded dramatically for pregnant women and children during the 1980s and early 1990s. By lowering the costs of prenatal care, delivery, and child health care for some individuals, Medicaid expansions may prompt some women to give birth who otherwise would not have children or lead some women to have more children than they otherwise would have. This study uses natality data from 1983 to 1996 to examine the relationship between a state's eligibility threshold for Medicaid and birth rates among various groups. The results suggest that expansions have significant and sizable effects on births. A 10 percentage point increase in the eligibility threshold is associated with a 1.4 percent increase in the birth rate among nonblack women and a 1.0 percent increase among black women. Between 1983 and 1996, the expansions appear to have led to an average increase in the birth rate of about 10 percent.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2000-4.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2000-4
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  1. Cutler, David M & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Does Public Insurance Crowd Out Private Insurance?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 391-430, May.
  2. A. S. Yelowitz, . "The Medicaid notch, labor supply, and welfare participation: Evidence from eligibility expansions," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1084-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  3. Greg Duncan & Saul Hoffman, 1990. "Welfare benefits, economic opportunities, and out-of-wedlock births among black teenage girls," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 519-535, November.
  4. T. Paul Schultz, 1994. "Marital Status and Fertility in the United States: Welfare and Labor Market Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 637-669.
  5. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-96, December.
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