Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health

52 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006 Last revised: 19 Jul 2010

See all articles by Marianne P. Bitler

Marianne P. Bitler

University of California, Davis - Departments of Economics and Agricultural Resource Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Hilary Williamson Hoynes

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 2006

Abstract

The stated goals of welfare reform are to increase work, reduce dependency on welfare, reduce births outside marriage, and to increase the formation of two parent families. However, welfare reform may also have indirect impacts on health. We provide a comprehensive review of the literature on the impacts of welfare reform on health. We illustrate the main findings from the literature by presenting estimates of the impact of reform on health insurance, health utilization, and health status using data from five state waiver experiments. The most consistent finding is that welfare reform led to a reduction in health insurance coverage. The impacts on health care utilization and health status tend to be more mixed and fewer are statistically significant. While the results are not conclusive, they suggest that welfare-to-work programs need not have large negative health effects.

Suggested Citation

Bitler, Marianne P. and Hoynes, Hilary Williamson, Welfare Reform and Indirect Impacts on Health (October 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12642, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=938968

Marianne P. Bitler

University of California, Davis - Departments of Economics and Agricultural Resource Economics ( email )

United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Hilary Williamson Hoynes (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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