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Prison health care: is contracting out healthy?

  • Kelly Bedard

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA)

  • H. E. Frech

    (Department of Economics, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA, USA)

US prison health care has recently been in the news and in the courts. A particular issue is whether prisons should contract out for health care. Contracting out has been growing over the past few decades. The stated motivation for this change ranges from a desire to improve the prison healthcare system, sometimes in response to a court mandate, to a desire to reduce costs. This study is a first attempt to quantify the impact of this change on inmate health. As morbidity measures are not readily obtainable, we focus on mortality. More specifically, we use a panel of state prisons from 1979 to 1990 and a fixed effects Poisson model to estimate the change in mortality associated with increase in the percentage of medical personnel employed under contract. In contrast to the first stated aim of contracting, we find that a 13% increase in percentage of medical personnel employed under contract increases mortality by 1.3%. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1427
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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 11 ()
Pages: 1248-1260

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:18:y:2009:i:11:p:1248-1260
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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  1. Frech, H E, III, 1976. "The Property Rights Theory of the Firm: Empirical Results from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(1), pages 143-52, February.
  2. Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "State Versus Private Ownership," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1841, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
  4. Ehrlich, Isaac & Georges Gallais-Hamonno & Zhiqiang Liu & Randall Lutter, 1994. "Productivity Growth and Firm Ownership: An Analytical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1006-38, October.
  5. Lawrence Katz & Steven D. Levitt & Ellen Shustorovich, 2003. "Prison Conditions, Capital Punishment, and Deterrence," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 318-343, August.
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