Does the Delivery of Primary Health Care Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from the Rollout of Community Health Centers
Introduced as part of the War on Poverty, Community Health Centers (CHCs) deliver primary care to underserved populations by locating sliding-scale clinics in economically disadvantaged areas. We investigate how this policy affected infant health using the rollout of CHCs and a flexible event study framework with Vital Statistics natality data. Our results show that average birth weight increased, and low birth weight incidence decreased after a CHC opened in the mother’s county of residence. These improvements in infant health can be explained by increased access to early prenatal care and reductions in maternal smoking.
We thank Marianne Bitler, Liz Cascio, Jason Lindo, Doug Miller, Marianne Page, and Lucie Schmidt for their helpful feedback as well as seminar and session participants at the American Economic Association Annual Meetings, Southern Economic Association Meetings, University of South Carolina, Columbia Women's Applied Micro seminar, Dickinson College, and the Global Labor Organization virtual seminar. This research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01HD0938898. The findings, conclusions, views, and opinions are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.