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Health Policy Working Group: Austin Denteh

Assistant Professor of Economics, Tulane University

“Immigration Enforcement and the Health of Children: Evidence from Secure Communities”

Lavin-Bernick Center
McKeever Room 210
Sponsored by:
The Murphy Institute
Center for Public Policy Research

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The Murphy Institute's Center for Public Policy Research hosts the Health Policy Working Group, a network of researchers and experts from Tulane’s Uptown and Downtown campuses who collaborate on research projects and strengthen individual work by offering feedback from a diverse pool of disciplinary expertise.

The Health Policy Working Group is organized by Mary Olson, Associate Professor of Economics at Tulane, with the goal of producing interdisciplinary research that addresses critical healthcare policy issues. Professor Olson's teaching and research interests include health economics, the political economy of health policy, regulation, and the study of bureaucracy. She is an expert on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. Her current research interests include studying the regulatory and firm-specific determinants of drug safety.

Augustine Denteh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Tulane University. His broad research interests are in Applied Econometrics and Health Economics, where he is interested in employing innovative econometric tools to study how public policies affect people’s health and wellbeing. In particular, he works on impact evaluation, measurement error models, the economics of obesity, and food and nutrition programs. Augustine is also interested in techniques for generalizability in health policy using statistical machine learning approaches for causal inference. 

Professor Denteh will present his research: “Immigration Enforcement and the Health of Children: Evidence from Secure Communities” (which is joint research with Makayla Lavender and Prithvijit Mukherjee).


This project investigates the causal effect of immigration enforcement through the Secure Communities (SC) program on Medicaid enrollment and the health of Hispanic children, with a focus on those in mixed-citizen families. The SC program relies on partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove undocumented individuals from the United States. We leverage the county-level staggered roll-out of the program as a national-level natural experiment to understand how immigration policies affect racial minorities' decisions to participate in public safety net programs and their health. Previous studies have examined the impacts of SC on adult outcomes, but the program's impact on children is understudied. Children are of unique interest because those born in the US are citizens and eligible for US safety net programs, but Secure Communities may create a chilling effect that discourages them from using those benefits because they may have foreign family members. Using the National Health and Interview Survey and a staggered difference-in-differences approach, our study investigates the impacts of the SC program on safety net program participation and children's health. This study's focus on children is important because it examines spillovers of immigration enforcement onto US citizens and mixed citizenship households. Our findings could inform the complex policy discussions by improving our understanding of immigration enforcement’s potential spillover impacts on citizen populations, particularly children

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