Bacon Bits: Economic Research Edition

I periodically check the research papers coming out of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) because they often address issues of interest to Bacon’s Rebellion. The research is far more rigorous from a methodological perspective than the work product of special-interest and advocacy groups, hence more worthy of serious consideration — even when it leads to public-policy implications I don’t like! Here are some quick hits from recent studies:

“The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco”
“We find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase.”

Implications: Rent control benefits existing renters but punishes newcomers entering the rental marketplace. Can you say “increasing homelessness?” As zoning codes and other restrictive policies aggravate the supply/demand imbalance here in Virginia, will our politicians avoid the temptation to impose rent controls?

“The Impact from the Affordable Care Act: Evidence from California’s Hospital Sector”
“We show that a substantial share of the federally-funded Medicaid expansion substituted for existing locally-funded safety net programs. Despite this offset, the expansion produced a substantial increase in hospital revenue and profitability, with larger gains for government hospitals. On the benefits side, we do not detect significant improvements in patient health, although the expansion led to substantially greater hospital and emergency room use, and a reallocation of care from public to private and better-quality hospitals.”

Implications: Medicaid expansion helps the hospitals more than it helps its intended beneficiaries. It’s hard to say whether California results can be extrapolated to Virginia, but the the possibility is worth exploring..

“Fertility Trends in the United States, 1980-2107: The Role of Unintended Births”
“After roughly 10 years of decline, the U.S. fertility rate reached a historic low in 2017. … Young women and unmarried women have seen the largest declines in fertility in recent years while women older than 30 and married women have actually experienced increases. … We find that 35% of the decline in fertility between 2007 and 2016 can be explained by declines in births that were likely unintended, and that this is driven by drops in births to young women.”

Implications: A decline in unintended births is a good thing. Mothers who have children when they choose to are likely to be more mature, more established in their job/career track, and better parents. However, it should be noted that the decline in unintended births coincides with an increase in the number of poor children enrolled in K-12 schools. Also, from a moral perspective, it may make a difference how women are avoiding unwanted births: through birth control (a good thing) or through abortion (a morally troubling thing).

“Effects of Photo ID Laws on Registration and Turnout: Evidence from Rhode Island”
“Turnout, registration, and voting conditional on registration fell for those without licenses after the law passed” — a 2.7 percentage point decline in turnout and a 7.6 percentage point decline in registration.

Implications: If a Photo ID law depressed voter turnout and registration in Rhode Island, might Virginia’s Photo ID law have depressed voter turnout here in the Old Dominion? That may depend on how comparable Rhode Island’s law is to Virginia’s. But, based on this research, it’s a question worth asking.

Does Doctor Race Affect the Health of Black Men?
“The life expectancy of black men is 4.5 years lower than that of non-Hispanic white men. Approximately 60 percent of this gap can be attributed to the higher rate of chronic disease among black men. … There are large potential health gains from ensuring that  black men receive preventive health services. Yet black men are less likely to visit a doctor and to receive services like a flu shot, a gap that cannot be fully explained by education or insurance access. …

“Black men have higher levels of mistrust of the medical establishment, likely due to the prominent history of abuse and neglect of disadvantaged populations by health authorities, such as in the syphilis experiment in Tuskegee, Alabama.”

In an Oakland, California, study, researchers found that black men were significantly more likely to avail themselves of screening services if their physician was black. The researchers estimate that “having more black doctors could reduce the black-white gap in cardiovascular mortality by 19 percent and the overall black-white male gap in life expectancy by 8 percent.”

Implication: The racial gap in health care outcomes is more complex than commonly portrayed.

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3 responses to “Bacon Bits: Economic Research Edition

  1. I did not know about this organization and its reports. It is certainly a good source. Thanks for keeping us informed about it.

  2. “Research” needs “evidence”. It can’t be what someone thinks or believes.

    ” “We show that a substantial share of the federally-funded Medicaid expansion substituted for existing locally-funded safety net programs.”

    that’s a pretty broad statement – how about some evidence?

    “Despite this offset, the expansion produced a substantial increase in hospital revenue and profitability, with larger gains for government hospitals.”

    MOST of the affordable care act – goes to medical providers – Doctors – not Hospitals You can see this if you look at the data as well as the MEC – minimum essential coverage:

    Ambulatory patient services (outpatient services)
    Emergency services
    Hospitalization
    Maternity and newborn care
    Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
    Prescription drugs
    Rehabilitative and habilitative services (those that help patients acquire, maintain, or improve skills necessary for daily functioning) and devices
    Laboratory services
    Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
    Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

    “On the benefits side, we do not detect significant improvements in patient health, although the expansion led to substantially greater hospital and emergency room use, and a reallocation of care from public to private and better-quality hospitals.”

    Again – I’d have to see data that actually demonstrates this but I’m suspicious that this probably is slanted because clearly people who have health insurance can and do visit the doctor and detect and manage disease BEFORE they end up in the hospital. That’s the ENTIRE point of getting access to health care in the first place and essentially what these guys are doing is not looking at where the ACA and the MedicAid Expansion really helps people.

    The point is to not ignore things like diabetes until it puts you in the ER, It’s about detecting and managing it before then – and that’s done not in a hospital but a doctors office.

  3. “Research” needs “evidence”. It can’t be what someone thinks or believes.

    Larry, why don’t you go off and look at the research before you post? Do you really think NBER studies are without supporting data?

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