Effects of Legal Status and Health Service Availability on Mortality
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.
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