Welfare Leaving and Health Trajectories among the Children of Immigrants and Natives

Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago
Danielle A. Crosby, University of Chicago

Using a unique longitudinal data set representing approximately 1,000 young children in Chicago during the period of welfare reform (1995-2001; the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, PHDCN), this study investigates (a) how welfare-leaving affects changes in young children’s physical health over time; (b) whether these associations differ for children of immigrants versus natives; (c) whether any differential patterns can be explained by differential access to health insurance and medical care or different patterns of parental employment and income; and (d) whether patterns differ for pre-school versus school- age children. We find that the children of immigrant welfare leavers fare significantly worse in terms of their physical health trajectories than either native leavers or immigrant stayers. These effects, moreover, seem to be concentrated among infants and preschoolers (versus school-age children). Potential mediators are examined and policy implications discussed.

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Presented in Session 26: Developmental Trajectories of Children of Immigrant Families