The Effect of Public Health Insurance on Criminal Recidivism
64 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2019 Last revised: 20 Feb 2020
Date Written: February 19, 2020
We consider a Beckerian enforcement model to identify different channels through which health care access may affect recidivism, and we empirically estimate these effects. By exploiting variation in state Medicaid expansion dates, we find that increased access reduces recidivism for both violent and public order crimes. Moreover, public coverage expansions substantially increase access to substance use disorder treatment. This 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' propensities to impulsively commit crimes.
Keywords: Medicaid, Recidivism, Affordable Care Act, Substance Use Disorder
JEL Classification: I15, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation