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Effects of Legal Status and Health Service Availability on Mortality


  • Scott Baker

    () (Economics Department, Stanford University)


Using a straight-forward Differences-in-Differences approach, effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and the 1986 and 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Acts on mortality levels in California are examined. These acts had the effect of legalizing and granting healthcare coverage to millions of previously illegal immigrants. Utilizing data on all IRCA applicants and all California deaths within this time period, I find evidence of substantial declines in mortality correlated with the size of the legalized cohort by county. If we assume, for purposes of a back of the envelope calculation, that after the reform IRCA applicants’ mortality rate is approximately equal to that of demographically similar California residents, this finding is consistent with IRCA applicants being subject to five to six times the mortality rate of California residents prior to the reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott Baker, 2010. "Effects of Legal Status and Health Service Availability on Mortality," Discussion Papers 09-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:09-018

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
    2. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    3. J. Robinson, 1980. "Estimating the approximate size of the illegal alien population in the united states by the comparative trend analysis of age-specific death rates," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 17(2), pages 159-176, May.
    4. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 869-924, December.
    5. Amy Finkelstein & Robin McKnight, 2005. "What Did Medicare Do (And Was It Worth It)?," NBER Working Papers 11609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. 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 1263-1296, December.
    7. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
    8. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2009. "Does Medicare Save Lives?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 597-636.
    9. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Fasani, 2015. "Understanding the Role of Immigrants’ Legal Status: Evidence from Policy Experiments," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 61(3-4), pages 722-763.

    More about this item


    1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act; Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act; California Mortality; healthcare; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare


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