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First Do No Harm?: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes

  • Janet Currie
  • W. Bentley MacLeod

We examine the impact of tort reforms using U.S. birth records for 1989-2001. We make four contributions: First, we develop a model that analyzes the incentives created by specific tort reforms. Second, we assemble new data on tort reform. Third, we examine a range of outcomes. Finally, we allow for differential effects by demographic/risk group. We find that reforms of the "deep pockets rule" reduce complications of labor and C-sections, while caps on noneconomic damages increase them. Our results demonstrate there are important interactions between incentives created by tort law and other incentives facing physicians.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12478.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12478.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Publication status: published as Janet Currie & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2008. "First Do No Harm? Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 795-830, 05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12478
Note: CH HC LE
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  1. Frank A. Sloan & Lindsey M. Chepke, 2008. "Medical Malpractice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262195720, June.
  2. Danzon, Patricia M., 2000. "Liability for medical malpractice," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1339-1404 Elsevier.
  3. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber & Michael Fischer, 1994. "Physician Payments and Infant Mortality: Evidence from Medicaid Fee Policy," NBER Working Papers 4930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Steven Shavell, 2003. "Economic Analysis of Accident Law," NBER Working Papers 9483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dranove, David, 1988. "Demand Inducement and the Physician/Patient Relationship," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(2), pages 281-98, April.
  6. Jennifer Arlen & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2005. "Torts, Expertise, and Authority: Liability of Physicians and Managed Care Organizations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 494-519, Autumn.
  7. Beomsoo Kim, 2007. "The Impact of Malpractice Risk on the Use of Obstetrics Procedures," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S2), pages S79-S119, 06.
  8. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Public health insurance and medical treatment: the equalizing impact of the Medicaid expansions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 63-89, October.
  9. Jon Gruber & John Kim & Dina Mayzlin, 1998. "Physician Fees and Procedure Intensity: The Case of Cesarean Delivery," NBER Working Papers 6744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Browne, Mark J & Puelz, Robert, 1999. "The Effect of Legal Rules on the Value of Economic and Non-economic Damages and the Decision to File," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 189-213, August.
  11. Douglas Almond & Kenneth Y. Chay & David S. Lee, 2004. "The Costs of Low Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 10552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Pauly Danzon. Patricia M. & Kington Mark V. & Raynard S., 1990. "The Effects of Malpractice Litigation on Physicians' Fees and Incomes," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 59, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  13. Sloan, Frank A. & Entman, Stephen S. & Reilly, Bridget A. & Glass, Cheryl A. & Hickson, Gerald B. & Zhang, Harold H., 1997. "Tort liability and obstetricians' care levels," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 245-260, June.
  14. Dubay, Lisa & Kaestner, Robert & Waidmann, Timothy, 1999. "The impact of malpractice fears on cesarean section rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 491-522, August.
  15. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  16. Daniel P. Kessler & Mark McClellan, 1996. "Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?," NBER Working Papers 5466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Kessler, Daniel & McClellan, Mark, 1996. "Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 353-90, May.
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