Impact of Mass Shootings on Mental Health Policy [ JOB MARKET PAPER]
Abstract: How do shock events that highlight a policy shortcoming impact the policy-making process? With the recent disturbing rise in mass shootings is it possible that their association with mental illnesses
can provide an impetus for better mental health care policies by highlighting the failure of existing
mental health policies? This paper examines how mass shootings impact mental health policy-making by analyzing the response of state governments to such events. I construct a novel dataset of mass shootings, media coverage, and mental health legislation to investigate how these events impact the introduction and passage of laws related to mental health care. The findings indicate that mass shootings result in an increase in mental health-related legislation, with a particularly strong effect on laws that improve access to mental health care in schools. The study also finds that media coverage of mass shootings leads to an increase in bills but has no effect on whether they are enacted into law. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the political party or the race of the shooter has any impact on mental health policy. The findings suggest that mass shootings highlight the dangers of un-diagnosed mental illnesses and create a `policy window' for the enactment of policies aimed at improving access to mental health care with the effect being more noteworthy for school-related mental health policies.
Abstract: Even as the United States continues to become more diverse, it remains very segregated on racial lines. Such lack of contact between different racial groups would likely lead to the existence and persistence of various racial stereotypes. As race and racial biases are often said to play a major role in American Politics, it is quite possible that the lack of familiarity due to residential segregation could affect which policies are enacted and how they are implemented. In this paper, I attempt to explore how residential segregation affects welfare policies and the degree of welfare generosity of states in terms of mental healthcare coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries. I construct a novel dataset of mental health-related Medicaid legislation and a novel measure of residential segregation at the state level. The findings reveal residential segregation to have a positive impact on the chances of states introducing legislation aimed at expanding Medicaid coverage of mental healthcare though the results are imprecisely estimated.
Can financial incentives for physicians improve access to health care in underserved areas ?: Evidence from loan forgiveness programs for mental health professionals
Abstract: Access to mental healthcare in rural America remains limited due to a shortage of mental healthcare providers, affecting over a third of Americans. This paper investigates whether financial incentives, specifically student loan forgiveness programs, can induce mental health professionals to practice in rural counties with a shortage of mental health professionals. To analyze this, a novel county-year dataset was created by concatenating data from multiple databases such as Area Health Resource File, County Business Patterns, and LexisNexis. Using a regression discontinuity design with the healthcare professional shortage area threshold as a cutoff, the study examines whether loan repayment programs increased the supply of providers in underserved areas. However, the preliminary results did not reveal any evidence of loan repayment programs increasing the supply of providers. These findings call for alternative measures to address the persistent shortage of mental healthcare providers in rural America.
Do Mass Shootings incentivize Senators and Representatives to sponsor legislation about mental healthcare policies ?
Abstract: Do shock events that highlight a policy shortcoming incentivize federal legislators to enact better policies ? Given the rise in mass shootings, their association with mental illness provides a unique opportunity to analyze how senators and representatives push for better mental health policies. For this purpose, I construct a novel dataset of mass shootings, their media coverage, and federal mental health legislation along with their sponsors. I then empirically assess how the occurrence of a mass shooting induces senators and representatives of the relevant state and county to sponsor or co-sponsor legislation aimed at improving access to mental healthcare.
Impact of Skilled Immigration on Support for Redistribution
Abstract: Increasing levels of immigration raise questions about the sustainability of the welfare state. While higher immigration would lead to less support for redistribution due to potential fiscal leakage or ethnic antagonism, it can also increase support for redistribution out of self interest due to potential economic competition. This paper explores a different dimension of the immigration-redistribution relationship, namely, the impact of skilled immigration on the politics of redistribution. Using both an individual level survey analyses and an aggregate state level analyses, the paper examines whether the level of skilled immigrants in a state increases support for welfare generosity among its residents. The findings indicate that the level of skilled immigration in a state has a moderately positive impact on support for generous redistribution both at the individual and aggregate level.