Investing in Health and Public Safety: Childhood Medicaid Eligibility and Later Life Criminal Behavior
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
We find that increased Medicaid eligibility during childhood generates large and statistically significant reductions in crime during early adulthood. An additional year of eligibility during childhood generates a three percent decrease in violent crime, an eleven percent decrease in property crime, an eight percent decrease in drug-related crime, and a four percent decrease in DUI arrests. Our findings are robust to alternative sample constructions and model specifications; to the inclusion of other variables potentially linked to health and crime, including measures of welfare program generosity, lead exposure, and abortion policy during childhood; as well as to the inclusion of gun control policy and measures of alcohol consumption during adulthood.
Our results are consistent with other work finding long-term impacts of public health insurance that go beyond improving recipients' health. Beyond the policy implications, because of Medicaid’s capacity to affect general and mental health, family resources, and home environment, our findings also contribute to a growing understanding of the early determinants of criminal behavior.
- Medicaid and Crime (3).pdf (510.7KB)