Death by Austerity? The Impact of Cost Containment on Avoidable Mortality in Italy
23 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 30, 2020
Does austerity in healthcare affect health and healthcare outcomes? We examine the intended and unintended effects of the Italian austerity policy Piano di Rientro aimed at containing the cost of the healthcare sector. Using an instrumental variable strategy that exploits the temporal and geographical variation induced by the policy rollout, we find that the policy was successful in alleviating deficits by reducing expenditure, mainly in the southern regions, but also resulted in a 3% rise in avoidable deaths among both men and women, a reduction in hospital capacity and a rise in south-to-north patient migration. These findings suggest that - even in a high income country with relatively low avoidable mortality like Italy - spending cuts can hurt survival.
Keywords: avoidable mortality, health care expenditure, recovery plan
JEL Classification: I10, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation