The Effect of Medicaid on Child Maltreatment: Evidence From the Expansion

Jessica Pac , Columbia University

In this paper, I examine the effect of access to Medicaid on child maltreatment rates using administrative data capturing the full census of alleged child maltreatment reports in the U.S. between 2010 and 2013 (N= 4,755,579). To identify the effect of Medicaid, I exploit the exogenous variation in access to Medicaid by the county-level early expansions in California’s Low Income Health Program (LIHP) from 2011 – 2012. My preferred estimates suggest that access to Medicaid significantly reduced reports of physical abuse by up to 11 percent. I detect ample effect heterogeneity, with larger effects among children from families with financial hardships and those historically disadvantaged. This paper provides new evidence to inform the Medicaid discussion, providing new evidence suggestive of the potentially costly consequences of a retraction of benefits or generosity.

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 Presented in Session 239. Flash Session: Social Policy and Child Well-being