The Impact of Parental Drinking on Children’s Use of Health Care
Objective: Alcohol misuse by parents can affect the demand for children’s health care in a number of different ways. The primary objective of this study is to estimate the impact that high-intensity drinkers have on their children’s use of pediatric visits and ER care. Method: We use a nationally representative sample of parents and children from the 2002-2008 National Health Interview Surveys and employ propensity-score methods (PSM). PSM can address some of the limitations associated with multivariate regression models both by using a non-parametric approach that does not rely on functional form assumptions and by statistically selecting a subset of untreated individuals for whom the distribution of covariates is similar to the distribution in the treated group. Our working sample consists of 65,926 pairs of adults and children. Results: We find that alcohol consumption by parents is positively associated with children’s health care utilization in some key areas. We observe a robust effect of paretal high-intensity drinking on the likelihood of a child's visit to the pediatrician and also find some evidence of increases in the number of pediatric visits and ER use. Conclusions: Understanding and quantifying the costs of parental alcoholism on children are critical to the design of treatment interventions and other policies that can improve the well-being of children of alcoholics. While children's insurance coverage and advances in medical treatment receive important attention in the United States, more emphasis should be placed in addressing the determinants of children's health that stem from parents' health-related behavior.
|Date of creation:||2011|
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