Applying Lessons from Social Psychology to Repair the Health Care Safety Net for Undocumented Immigrants

The Health Care "Safety Net" in a Post-Reform World (Mark A. Hall, J.D. and Sara Rosenbaum, J.D. ed.) (Rutgers University Press 2011)

U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-15

20 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2013

Date Written: July 24, 2013

Abstract

Several states have passed laws restricting undocumented immigrants’ access to health care and other publicly funded benefits. These laws and the debate surrounding them have been polarizing. Social psychologists have developed a Group Identity Model that has enormous explanatory power to understand how these laws operate as both self-preservation and self-destruction for the general population. The Group Identity Model explains the fundamental human tendency toward social categorization, forming in- and out-groups, to include and exclude population groups thus defusing the polemic interpretations of motives and objectives that characterize the immigration debate. Moreover the Group Identity Model also teaches that re-categorization can change these dichotomous arrangements to serve mutual interests and allocate scarce resources in a way that relies much more on functionality, shared purposes, and a realignment of currently competing interests rather than upon a differences between citizens and non-citizens that really boil down to fears associated with prejudices against immutable characteristics. This chapter offers the Group Identity Theory to shed light on the policies that underlie the law pertaining to non-citizens’ access to health benefits, to urge a fresh perspective that will introduce new solutions to the ongoing conversation about reforming immigration law.

JEL Classification: I00, I31, I38, J15, J70, J19, J71, J78, J79, K19, K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Matthew, Dayna Bowen, Applying Lessons from Social Psychology to Repair the Health Care Safety Net for Undocumented Immigrants (July 24, 2013). The Health Care "Safety Net" in a Post-Reform World (Mark A. Hall, J.D. and Sara Rosenbaum, J.D. ed.) (Rutgers University Press 2011); U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2297914

Dayna Bowen Matthew (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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