Deteriorating Mexican-American Child Health? The Role of Health Insurance

Xiuhong You, University of Texas at Austin
Erin R. Hamilton, University of Texas at Austin

Theories explaining the paradox of good Mexican-American birth outcomes do not necessarily limit these outcomes to birth, but some research shows that Mexican-American child health may deteriorate relative to other racial/ethnic groups. One possible explanation for this change is Mexican-Americans' relatively limited access to health care through their lower rates of health insurance coverage. We look at a national, urban sample of children born to unmarried mothers to explore racial/ethnic differences in health for three-year-olds and the possible role that health insurance coverage may play in mediating those differences. We find that Mexican-American children do not maintain a health advantage relative to whites at three years of age but nor do they exhibit a consistent disadvantage. While controlling for health insurance differences across racial/ethnic groups reduces racial/ethnic health disparities, the overall impact is modest. The implications of these findings for our theoretical understanding of social influences on health are discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology