The theoretical and empirical links between public health insurance access and fertility in the United States remain unclear. Utilizing a demographic cell-based estimation approach with panel data (1987-1997), we revisit the large-scale Medicaid expansions to pregnant women during the 1980s to estimate the heterogeneous impacts of public health insurance access on childbirth. While the decision to become a parent (i.e., the extensive margin) appears to be unaffected by increased access to Medicaid, we find that increased access to public health insurance positively influenced the number of high parity births (i.e., the intensive margin) for select groups of women. In particular, we find a robust, positive birth effect for unmarried women with a high school education, a result which is consistent across the two racial groups examined in our analysis: African American and white women. This result suggests that investigating effects along both the intensive and extensive margin is important for scholars who study the natalist effects of social welfare policies, and our evidence provides a more nuanced understanding of the influence of public health insurance on fertility.
Medicaid, Fertility, Parity, pregnant women, childbirth, public health insurance
Working Papers Series
Health Economics | Health Policy | Sociology | Women's Health
Groves, Lincoln H.; Hamersma, Sarah; and Lopoo, Leonard M., "Pregnancy Medicaid Expansions and Fertility: Differentiating between the Intensive and Extensive Margins" (2017). Center for Policy Research. 238.
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