Health Behaviors, Mental Health, and Health Care Utilization Among Single Mothers After Welfare Reforms in the 1990s


Basu, S; Rehkopf, DH; Siddiqi, A; Glymour, MM; Kawachi, I; (2016) Health Behaviors, Mental Health, and Health Care Utilization Among Single Mothers After Welfare Reforms in the 1990s. American journal of epidemiology, 183 (6). pp. 531-538. ISSN 0002-9262 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwv249

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Abstract

We studied the health of low-income US women affected by the largest social policy change in recent US history: the 1996 welfare reforms. Using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1993-2012), we performed 2 types of analysis. First, we used difference-in-difference-in-differences analyses to estimate associations between welfare reforms and health outcomes among the most affected women (single mothers aged 18-64 years in 1997; n = 219,469) compared with less affected women (married mothers, single nonmothers, and married nonmothers of the same age range in 1997; n = 2,422,265). We also used a synthetic control approach in which we constructed a more ideal control group for single mothers by weighting outcomes among the less affected groups to match pre-reform outcomes among single mothers. In both specifications, the group most affected by welfare reforms (single mothers) experienced worse health outcomes than comparison groups less affected by the reforms. For example, the reforms were associated with at least a 4.0-percentage-point increase in binge drinking (95% confidence interval: 0.9, 7.0) and a 2.4-percentage-point decrease in the probability of being able to afford medical care (95% confidence interval: 0.1, 4.8) after controlling for age, educational level, and health care insurance status. Although the reforms were applauded for reducing welfare dependency, they may have adversely affected health.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
PubMed ID: 26946395
Web of Science ID: 372579500003
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2551661

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