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Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health

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  • Marianne Bitler
  • Hilary W. Hoynes

Abstract

The stated goals of welfare reform are to increase work, reduce dependency on welfare, reduce births outside marriage, and to increase the formation of two parent families. However, welfare reform may also have indirect impacts on health. We provide a comprehensive review of the literature on the impacts of welfare reform on health. We illustrate the main findings from the literature by presenting estimates of the impact of reform on health insurance, health utilization, and health status using data from five state waiver experiments. The most consistent finding is that welfare reform led to a reduction in health insurance coverage. The impacts on health care utilization and health status tend to be more mixed and fewer are statistically significant. While the results are not conclusive, they suggest that welfare-to-work programs need not have large negative health effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Marianne Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health," NBER Working Papers 12642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12642
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    3. Narain, Kimberly & Bitler, Marianne & Ponce, Ninez & Kominski, Gerald & Ettner, Susan, 2017. "The impact of welfare reform on the health insurance coverage, utilization and health of low education single mothers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 28-35.
    4. Ayala, Luis & Rodríguez, Magdalena, 2013. "Health-related effects of welfare-to-work policies," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 103-112.
    5. Jane Waldfogel, 2007. "Welfare Reforms and Child Well-Being in the US and UK," CASE Papers case126, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    6. Chris Herbst, 2013. "Welfare reform and the subjective well-being of single mothers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 203-238, January.
    7. Jagannathan, Radha & Camasso, Michael J. & Sambamoorthi, Usha, 2010. "Experimental evidence of welfare reform impact on clinical anxiety and depression levels among poor women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 152-160, July.
    8. Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Welfare reforms and child well-being in the US and UK," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6208, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Morrill, Melinda Sandler, 2011. "The effects of maternal employment on the health of school-age children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 240-257, March.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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