The Effect of Child Health Insurance Access on Schooling: Evidence from Public Insurance Expansions
53 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014 Last revised: 21 Aug 2022
Date Written: May 2014
Public health insurance programs comprise a large share of federal and state government expenditures. Although a sizable literature analyzes the effects of these programs on health care utilization and health outcomes, little prior work has examined the long-term effects and resultant health improvements on important outcomes, such as educational attainment. We contribute to filling this gap in the literature by examining the effects of the public insurance expansions among children in the 1980s and 1990s on their future educational attainment. Our findings indicate that expanding health insurance coverage for low-income children increases the rate of high school completion and college completion. These estimates are robust to only using federal Medicaid expansions, and mostly are due to expansions that occur when the children are older (i.e., not newborns). We present suggestive evidence that better health is one of the mechanisms driving our results by showing that Medicaid eligibility when young translates into better teen health. Overall, our results indicate that the long-run benefits of public health insurance are substantial.
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