The Impact of Children's Public Health Insurance Expansions on Educational Outcomes

37 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2009 Last revised: 4 Aug 2010

See all articles by Phillip B. Levine

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Northwestern University - School of Education and Social Policy; NBER

Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of public health insurance expansions through both Medicaid and SCHIP on children's educational outcomes, measured by 4th and 8th grade reading and math test scores, available from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). We use a triple difference estimation strategy, taking advantage of the cross-state variation over time and across ages in children's health insurance eligibility. Using this approach, we find that test scores in reading, but not math, increased for those children affected at birth by increased health insurance eligibility. A 50 percentage point increase in eligibility is found to increase reading test scores by 0.09 standard deviations. We also examine whether the improvements in educational outcomes can be at least partially attributed to improvements in health status itself. First, we provide further evidence that increases in eligibility are linked to improvements in health status at birth. Second, we show that better health status at birth (measured by rates of low birth-weight and infant mortality), is linked to improved educational outcomes. Although the methods used to support this last finding do not completely eliminate potentially confounding factors, we believe it is strongly suggestive that improving children's health will improve their classroom performance.

Suggested Citation

Levine, Phillip B. and Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore, The Impact of Children's Public Health Insurance Expansions on Educational Outcomes (January 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14671. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1332610

Phillip B. Levine (Contact Author)

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Northwestern University - School of Education and Social Policy ( email )

Evanston, IL
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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