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The Effect of Welfare Reform on Prenatal Care and Birth Weight

  • Robert Kaestner
  • Won Chan Lee

Welfare reform has resulted in a dramatic decline in welfare caseloads and some have claimed that a significant number of low-income women may be without health insurance as a result. The loss of insurance may reduce low-income, pregnant women's health care utilization, and this may adversely affect infant health. Welfare reform also may affect healthcare utilization and health of pregnant women and infants because of welfare-induced changes in family disposable income, time available for health investments, and levels of stress. In this paper we examine the effect of welfare reform on prenatal care utilization and birth weight of low-educated women and their infants. We find that a 50 percent reduction in the caseload, which is similar to that which occurred in the 1990s, is associated with a zero to seven percent decrease in first trimester prenatal care; a zero to five percent decrease in the number of prenatal care visits; and a zero to 10 percent increase in low birth weight.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9769.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9769.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Publication status: published as Kaestner, Robert and Won Chan Lee. “The Effect of Welfare Reform on Prenatal Care and Birth Weight.” Health Economics 14, 5 (2005): 497-511.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9769
Note: HE CH
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner, 2001. "From Welfare to Work: Has Welfare Reform Worked?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 699-719.
  4. Janet Currie & Jeffrey Grogger, 2000. "Medicaid Expansions and Welfare Contractions: Offsetting Effects on Prenatal Care and Infant Health?," NBER Working Papers 7667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Robert Kaestner & Neeraj Kaushal, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Health Insurance Coverage of Low-Income Families," NBER Working Papers 10033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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