Volume 39 - Article 31 | Pages 871–882  

Immigrant women and Medicaid-financed births

By Masanori Kuroki


Background: While immigrants’ propensity to use social programs has been extensively examined by researchers, whether immigrant women are more likely to use Medicaid for birth delivery than US-born women is understudied, and discussion on fiscal costs of immigration should include Medicaid-financed births among immigrants.

Objective: This study documents Medicaid-financed births by dividing the sample based on age, education levels, and marital status and calculating the extent of Medicaid-financed births for each sociodemographic group, paying special attention to the difference between US-born women and immigrant women.

Methods: Cross-sectional data on 11,451,478 women come from the 2014–2016 Natality Detail dataset compiled by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Results: Overall, immigrant women are more likely than US-born women to report using Medicaid for birth delivery. However, among unmarried high school dropouts, married teenage high school dropouts, and unmarried teenage high school graduates, US-born women are more likely to use Medicaid for birth delivery than their immigrant counterparts.

Conclusions: Considerable heterogeneity in the likelihood of Medicaid-financed births by age, education, and marital status highlights the importance of not bundling all immigrant women together to better identify subgroups with higher Medicaid-financed births.

Contribution: This paper extends the literature on fiscal costs of immigration in the United States by focusing on Medicaid, which is an important source of financing for births for low-income women and families.

Author's Affiliation

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