Katherine Meckel

Department of Economics
Econ 210
University of California at San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive #0508
LaJolla, CA 92093

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: CH , EEE , PE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: University of California at San Diego

NBER Working Papers and Publications

January 2020Efficiency Versus Equity in the Provision of In-Kind Benefits: Evidence from Cost Containment in the California WIC Program
with Maya Rossin-Slater, Lindsey M. Uniat: w26718
In many U.S. public programs, the government contracts with private firms to deliver in-kind benefits to recipients. These public-private partnerships generate agency problems that could drive up costs and lower program efficiency, but cost containment regulations may discourage firm participation and reduce access among eligible households. We examine these trade-offs in the context of California’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides vouchers to low-income pregnant women and children under five to obtain free food packages from private vendors, and has complex rules about eligible products. We use variation from a 2012 cost containment reform, which resulted in a 55 percent drop in the number of small vendors, and examine how local...
Is the Cure Worse than the Disease? Unintended Effects of Payment Reform in a Quantity-based Transfer Program
Quantity vouchers are used in redistributive programs to shield participants from price variation and alter their consumption patterns. However, because participants are insensitive to prices, vendors of program goods are incentivized to price discriminate between program and non-program customers. I study these trade-offs in the context of a reform to reduce price discrimination in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides a quantity voucher for nutritious foods to low-income mothers and children. The reform caused vendors to drop out, reducing program take-up. In addition, smaller vendors increased prices charged to non-WIC shoppers by 6.4%.

Published: Katherine Meckel, 2020. "Is the Cure Worse than the Disease? Unintended Effects of Payment Reform in a Quantity-Based Transfer Program," American Economic Review, vol 110(6), pages 1821-1865. citation courtesy of

July 2013Do Insurers Risk-Select Against Each Other? Evidence from Medicaid and Implications for Health Reform
with Ilyana Kuziemko, Maya Rossin-Slater: w19198
Increasingly in U.S. public insurance programs, the state finances and regulates competing, capitated private health plans but does not itself directly insure beneficiaries through a public fee-for-service (FFS) plan. We develop a simple model of risk-selection in such settings. Capitation incentivizes insurers to retain low-cost clients and thus improve their care relative to high-cost clients, who they prefer would switch to a competitor. We test this prediction using county transitions from FFS Medicaid to capitated Medicaid managed care (MMC) for pregnant women and infants. We first document the large health disparities and corresponding cost differences between blacks and Hispanics (who make up the large majority of Medicaid enrollees in our data), with black births costing nearly...
March 2013Something in the Water: Contaminated Drinking Water and Infant Health
with Janet Currie, Joshua S. Graff Zivin, Matthew J. Neidell, Wolfram Schlenker: w18876
This paper provides estimates of the effects of in utero exposure to contaminated drinking water on fetal health. We examine the universe of birth records and drinking water testing results for the state of New Jersey from 1997 to 2007. Our data enable us to compare outcomes across siblings who were potentially exposed to differing levels of harmful contaminants from drinking water while in utero. We find small effects of drinking water contamination on all children, but large and statistically significant effects on birth weight and gestation of infants born to less educated mothers. We also show that those mothers who were most affected by contaminants were the least likely to move between births in response to contamination.

Published: Janet Currie & Joshua Graff Zivin & Katherine Meckel & Matthew Neidell & Wolfram Schlenker, 2013. "Something in the water: contaminated drinking water and infant health," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, vol 46(3), pages 791-810. citation courtesy of

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