Impact of Language Access Laws on LEP Infant Mortality Rates

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2023-04

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Abstract

Starting with Executive Order 13166 in 2000, the United States federal government began to address the language disparity issues in health care. Around the same time, several states have begun to pass language access (LA) legislation mandating translation and interpretation services at hospitals for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. This study uses these multiple discontinuities to evaluate the effect of language access laws on infant mortality rates, adequacy of care, Apgar scores, and the number of prenatal visits from the years 1995 to 2004 for limited English proficient families. I find ambiguous results of language access laws positively impacting infant mortality rates or Apgar scores, but I find clear positive impacts on the adequacy of care and the number of prenatal visits. These findings suggest that language access laws have a clear effect on reducing barriers for limited English proficient mothers, and improving the care mothers receive. Furthermore, there is limited evidence that it improves infant health or outcomes, but the increase of prenatal visits and adequacy of care likely indirectly leads to improving infant mortality rates and Apgar scores. More research is needed into discovering how those mechanisms work and the costs of language services.

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Griffin, Andrew (2023). Impact of Language Access Laws on LEP Infant Mortality Rates. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/28426.


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