Does the Delivery of Primary Health Care Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from the Rollout of Community Health Centers
Community Health Centers (CHCs) deliver primary care to underserved populations by locating sliding-scale clinics in economically disadvantaged areas. We investigate how this policy affected infant health using the rollout of CHCs and a flexible event study framework with Vital Statistics natality data. We find that maternal access to CHCs improves infant health outcomes within seven years after their introduction. Treatment-on-the-treated estimates show a 25 to 42 gram increase in birth weight and a 9% to 16% reduction in the likelihood of low birth weight. These improvements in infant health can be explained by increased access to early prenatal care and reductions in maternal smoking.