The Curious Case of Refugees: Why Did Medicaid Participation Fall following the 1996 Welfare Reforms?

Animesh Giri, Emory University

This paper examines the fall in refugees' Medicaid participation rates following the 1996 welfare reforms in the United States. Using repeated cross-sections of the March supplement to the Current Population Survey, years 1993 to 2001, I attempt to disentangle two potential and contrasting reasons for the subsequent fall in refugees' Medicaid participation rates: one the fall was an unintended effect of the welfare reforms; and two the fall in participation rates were driven primarily by the improving economy of the time. My main findings suggest that about fifty percent of the drop in Medicaid participation among refugees can be explained by the improving local economy of the time and the remaining half can be explained by changes in individual and household level demographics of refugees. Further, I find no evidence suggesting that the decline in Medicaid participation was an unintended effect of welfare reform.

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Presented in Poster Session 8