Three essays on the economics of immigration and health
Giuntella, Giovanni Osea
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This thesis analyzes different sources of disparities in health and access to care among immigrants and ethnic minorities in the United States. The first chapter studies the generational worsening observed in the birth outcomes of Hispanics in the United States. Despite their lower socio-economic status, Hispanic immigrants in the United States initially have better health outcomes than natives. However, while their socio-economic status improves over time and across generations, their health deteriorates. This phenomenon is commonly known as the "Hispanic health paradox.'' There is an open debate about whether the observed convergence is explained by selection on health or by the adoption of less healthy lifestyles. This paper uses a unique dataset linking the birth records of two generations of Hispanics born in California and Florida (1975-2009), to analyze the mechanisms behind the generational decline in birth outcomes. The second chapter (joint with Emily R. Gee) investigates the role of ethnic networks and the effect of providing online information in foreign-language in facilitating Medicaid take-up among immigrants in the US. Many low-income immigrants are uninsured yet eligible for public health insurance. In this paper, we examine whether language barriers and network effects can explain disparities in insurance Medicaid participation. Using the 2008 and 2009 American Community Survey, we show that linguistic networks facilitate Medicaid enrolment among non-English speaking adults. The third chapter analyzes the effect of food-environment on maternal weight gain and pregnancy outcomes. This paper studies how changes in the quality of food environment affect maternal and child health. Similarly to Currie et al. (2009), I use mother fixed-effects and exploit over time variation in the proximity to different set of restaurants. Results show that proximity to Mexican restaurants is associated with a lower likelihood of excessive weight gain among US born mothers.