Panel: Public Policy, Crime, and Drugs: Fighting High Priority Social Issues Through Policy
(Crime and Drugs)

Saturday, November 4, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stetson D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Monica Deza, Hunter College, City University of New York
Panel Chairs:  Rodney Andrews, University of Texas, Dallas
Discussants:  Daniel S Grossman, Cornell University and Michael F. Pesko, Georgia State University

SNAP Benefits and Crime: Evidence from Changing Disbursement Schedules
Jillian Carr, Purdue University and Analisa Packham, Miami University

The Effect of Public Insurance Expansions on Substance Use Disorder Treatment Utilization Evidence from the Affordable Care Act
Johanna Catherine Maclean, Temple University and Brendan Saloner, Johns Hopkins University

The Intergenerational Effects of Education on Delinquency
Monica Deza, Hunter College, City University of New York and Aaron Chalfin, University of Pennsylvania

This session includes four empirical papers that explore the extent to which public policies can affect crime and drug use, two major social problems facing the U.S.  In particular, this session focuses on intended and unintended spillovers from four existing social policies that impact substantial shares of the U.S. population.  Specifically: ACA-related Medicaid expansions, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), and compulsory schooling laws. 


The session provides a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of these policies in reducing crime and drug addiction through the use of high quality data and advanced policy evaluation methods.  These analyses are timely as state and federal governments are currently implementing or considering altering these policies.  For example, President Trump and the Republican Congress aim to repeal major provisions of the ACA, drastically alter the ways in which the federal government combats drug addiction and crime, and make major changes to the public school system.  Thus, findings from these studies will offer critical new information to decision makers as they determine how best to address pressing social problems through public policy. 


The first paper, by Catherine Maclean and Brendan Saloner, studies the effect of ACA-related Medicaid expansions on substance use disorder (SUD) treatment utilization among low-income adults using administrative data coupled with a differences-in-differences (DD) design.  These expansions increased prescriptions for Medicaid-financed medications used to treat SUDs in outpatient settings and the likelihood of using Medicaid as a source of payment for specialty SUD treatment.


The second paper, by Jillian Carr and Analisa Packham, studies the effect of SNAP on crime.  Exploiting a novel policy change in Chicago, Illinois that altered the number of SNAP distribution days in a DD regression, this study finds that SNAP benefits led to a 20% decrease in property crimes.


The third paper, by Justine Mallatt, is the first study to examine the link between state PDMPs and heroin-related crime.  Study findings imply that implementation of a PDMP leads to a 30% increase in the number of crimes where the offender is carrying heroin, suggesting a large negative spillover from PDMPs to crime.


Finally, the fourth paper, by Aaron Chalfin and Monica Deza, quantifies the extent to which teenager’s criminal participation can be reduced by increasing their parents’ education, exploiting exogenous variation in the timing of compulsory schooling laws across U.S. states in an instrumental variables/DD framework.


In addition to the formal presentations, a discussant with expertise in the areas of public policy and applied economics is assigned to each paper.  The discussants are Michael Pesko and Daniel Grossman.  The session will be organized as follows: Presenters will deliver their paper and then discussants will follow with a summary of the study contributions along with suggestions on ways to strengthen the study from both a policy and analytical perspective.  There will be allocated time at the end of the session for audience participation.   As such, this session is directly in line with the conference theme: the importance of high quality data to support policy decisions.

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