The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism

64 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 15 Oct 2019

See all articles by Erkmen Giray Aslim

Erkmen Giray Aslim

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center

Murat C. Mungan

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Carlos Navarro

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center

Han Yu

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center

Date Written: October 11, 2019

Abstract

Mental health and substance abuse disorders are highly prevalent among incarcerated individuals. Many ex-offenders reenter the community without receiving any specialized treatment and return to prison with existing behavioral health problems. We consider a Beckerian law enforcement theory to identify different channels through which access to health care may impact ex-offenders’ propensities to recidivate, and empirically estimate the effect of access to public health insurance on criminal recidivism. We exploit the plausibly exogenous variation in state decisions to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Using administrative data on prison admission and release records from 2010 to 2016, we find that the expansions decrease recidivism for both violent and public order crimes. In addition, we find that the public coverage expansions substantially increase access to substance use disorder treatment. The effect is salient for individuals who are covered by Medicaid and referred to treatment by the criminal justice system. These findings are most consistent with the theory that increased access to health care reduces ex-offenders’ perceived non-monetary benefits from committing crimes.

Keywords: Medicaid, Recidivism, Affordable Care Act, Substance Use Disorder

JEL Classification: I15, K42

Suggested Citation

Aslim, Erkmen Giray and Mungan, Murat C. and Navarro, Carlos and Yu, Han, The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism (October 11, 2019). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 19-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3425457 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3425457

Erkmen Giray Aslim (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center ( email )

College Station, TX
United States

Murat C. Mungan

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Carlos Navarro

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center ( email )

College Station, TX
United States
9798453494 (Phone)
9798456636 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://perc.tamu.edu/

Han Yu

Texas A&M University - Private Enterprise Research Center ( email )

4231 TAMU
PERC
College Station, TX Texas 77840
United States
9798454344 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://hanyulsu.weebly.com

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