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Multi-generational Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net: Early Life Exposure to Medicaid and the Next Generation's Health

Chloe N. East, Sarah Miller, Marianne Page, Laura R. Wherry

NBER Working Paper No. 23810
Issued in September 2017, Revised in February 2019
NBER Program(s):The Program on Children, The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program

We examine multi-generational impacts of positive in utero and early life health interventions using state-year variation in public health insurance expansions that targeted low-income pregnant women and children. We use restricted use Vital Statistics Natality files to create a unique dataset linking individuals’ childhood Medicaid exposure to the next generation’s health outcomes at birth. We find robust evidence that the health benefits associated with treated generations’ early life access to Medicaid extend to later offspring’s birth outcomes. Our results imply that the return on investment is larger than suggested by evaluations of the program that focus only on treated cohorts.

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A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the 2017 number 4 issue of the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health. You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23810

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