Effects of Health Insurance on Measures of Socioeconomic Status
This session ties together papers studying the effects of health and health insurance on socioeconomic status and related outcomes. Although examining a similar set out outcomes, each paper studies the role of health insurance in a different country or region. The first paper considers access to public health insurance as a tool to break the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Barthold considers a series of expansions to public health insurance in Europe that affected farmers. Although these policy changes appear to have some positive effects on the completed education of children of these farmers, policy makers need to consider access to care as a potential mitigating circumstance. The second paper shows that having access to Medicaid, a public health insurance program in the US, has lasting effects on outcomes including teen pregnancy and criminal activity. Pauley develops a model to explain why being insured during childhood is important and shows two channels through which insurance acts: changes in parental labor supply and in parental investments, both of which affect the child production function. The third paper studies the role of health insurance and education in reducing the negative effects of health shocks on future earnings. Pohl et al. construct a unique data set by merging records from the Chilean unemployment insurance system with data from hospital discharge records to show that both education and health insurance play an important role. However, earnings of individuals who experienced a health shock do not catch up after five-years to those who did not.