Abstract: Medicaid is a public health insurance program designed to shield poor children from the economic insecurity of sickness and improve their health. Recent evidence suggests that it may also have a lasting impact on non-health outcomes. I study a federal law that expanded Medicaid eligibility discontinuously for low-income children born after September 30, 1983. Using administrative data on students in Chicago Public Schools, I demonstrate that Medicaid enrollment increased significantly for those children likeliest to be affected by the expansion. I also offer suggestive evidence that these children were more likely to graduate high school, and that this effect is particularly strong for males. These findings suggest potentially large, long-term benefits to non-health outcomes from expanding children's access to health insurance.

"The Impact of Housing Assistance on Child Outcomes: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Lottery," with Brian Jacob and Jens Ludwig. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(1): 465-506. 2015.

Abstract: One longstanding motivation for low-income housing programs is the possibility that housing affordability and housing conditions generate externalities, including on children’s behavior and long-term life outcomes. We take advantage of a randomized housing voucher lottery in Chicago in 1997 to examine the long-term impact of housing assistance on a wide variety of child outcomes, including schooling, health and criminal involvement. In contrast to most prior work that focuses on families in public housing, we focus on families living in unsubsidized private housing at baseline, for whom voucher receipt generates large changes in both housing and non-housing consumption. We find that the receipt of housing assistance has little, if any, impact on neighborhood or school quality, or on a wide range of important child outcomes. 

"Predictors of Successful Housing Voucher Lease-Up and Implications for Estimated Labor Market Responses," with Eric Chyn and Joshua Hyman.

Abstract: Low participation rates in government assistance programs are a major policy concern in the United States. We estimate the predictors of successful take-up of Section 8 housing vouchers, a program in which take-up rates among interested and eligible households are often as low as 50%. We examine a large set of households in Chicago that were offered a voucher during 1997-2003. We link household members to administrative datasets on employment, public assistance usage, arrests, residential location, health, and children’s academic performance. Our results suggest a non-monotonic relationship between disadvantage and take-up: the unemployed and those with relatively high incomes do not lease up as often compared to those who are employed but earn relatively little. Among other factors that predict voucher use, several suggest that the perceived benefit of the voucher is particularly important in explaining take-up. Based on our analysis of the predictors of voucher take-up, we use a reweighting procedure that generalizes the estimates of the impact of vouchers on labor supply presented in Jacob and Ludwig (2012). We find that policies to increase take-up rates could exacerbate intensive margin labor market reductions among voucher recipients.