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The Effect of Family Planning Programs on the Fertility of Welfare Recipients: Evidence from Medicaid Claims

  • Jennifer M. Mellor

Can public programs effectively reduce the number of births to women on public assistance? In this paper, I examine the provision of family planning services to welfare recipients through the Medicaid program. Previous studies of publicly-funded family planning services in the U.S. have produced conflicting and sometimes confounding results, and have exclusively relied on single-equation estimates of family planning program effectiveness. Economic theories suggest that single-equation estimates may understate program effectiveness when the same unobserved variable affects both the fertility outcome and contraceptive behavior. To eliminate the bias that may result from single-equation estimation, I use a bivariate probit model to estimate the effect of contraceptive acceptance on the individual's probability of giving birth. I employ a rich and unique data set created from Medicaid claims and eligibility records of the State of Maryland. Results from bivariate probit estimation show that contraceptive acceptance plays a much larger role in reducing fertility than single-equation estimates would suggest, due to a significant positive correlation between the unobservable variables that affect both fertility and contraception.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 9.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 1997
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Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:9
Contact details of provider: Postal: Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-702-0472
Web page: http://www.jcpr.org/wp/ByDate.html
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist, 1991. "Instrumental Variables Estimation of Average Treatment Effects in Econometrics and Epidemiology," NBER Technical Working Papers 0115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "The Demand for and Supply of Births: Fertility and Its Life Cycle Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 992-1015, December.
  3. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  4. Schultz, T. Paul, 1988. "Population programs: Measuring their impact on fertility and the personal distribution of their effects," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 113-139, April.
  5. J. A. Hausman, 1976. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Working papers 185, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Blank, Rebecca M., 1989. "Analyzing the length of welfare spells," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 245-273, August.
  7. Schultz, T.P., 1990. "Assessing Family Palnning Cost-Effectiveness: Applicability Of Individual Demand-Program Supply Framework," Papers 615, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  8. Elizabeth Stephen & Ronald Rindfuss & Frank Bean, 1988. "Racial differences in contraceptive choice: Complexity and implications," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 53-70, February.
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