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Study Links Child Health Coverage, College Attainment

June 16, 2014

When children have health insurance, they are more likely to finish high school, enroll in college and earn a bachelor's degree, according to a study released today by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here). The study uses Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s that expanded the share of children in the United States with health insurance and tracks the impact on those who became eligible as children.

The study found that a 10 percentage point increase in average Medicaid eligibility for those 0-17 years old leads to a decrease of 0.5 of a percentage point in the high school dropout rate for the population and increases in college enrollment of between 0.7 of a percentage point and 1.0 percentage point, and increases in bachelor's degree attainment of 0.9 to 1 percentage point. "These estimates translate into declines in high school non-completion of about 5 percent, increases in college attendance of between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent and increases in B.A. attainment of about 3.3 percent - 3.7 percent relative to the sample means," the study finds.

The authors note the relevance of their findings to the expanded coverage many children may be receiving under the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010.

The paper is by Sarah Cohodes of Harvard University; and Samuel Kleiner, Michael F. Lovenheim and Daniel Grossman, all of Cornell University.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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