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Medicaid's effect on single women's labor supply: Evidence from the introduction of Medicaid

By Erin Strumpf


This paper examines the impact of the introduction of the Medicaid program on labor supply decisions among single women in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I use a differences-in-differences-in-differences methodology to estimate the effect of Medicaid on eligible women's labor force participation, using variation in the timing of Medicaid implementation across states and in eligibility across demographic groups. Using March supplements to the CPS from 1963 to 1975, I find no evidence that women who were eligible for Medicaid decreased their labor supply relative to ineligible women, in contrast to clear theoretical predictions of a negative supply response. Positive point estimates suggest that health benefits from health insurance coverage may have contributed to relative increases in labor supply. These results add to an emerging consensus that public health insurance programs for low-income parents and children may be able to improve access to care without substantial indirect costs from labor supply distortions.Health insurance In-kind transfers Labor supply Great Society programs

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