Department of Economics
University of Kansas
335 Snow Hall
1460 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045
Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|February 2018||Sunlight and Protection Against Influenza|
with Richard J. Zeckhauser: w24340
Recent medical literature suggests that vitamin D supplementation protects against acute respiratory tract infection. Humans exposed to sunlight produce vitamin D directly. This paper investigates how differences in sunlight, as measured over several years within states and during the same calendar month, affect influenza incidence. We find that sunlight strongly protects against influenza. This relationship is driven by sunlight in late summer and early fall, when there are sufficient quantities of both sunlight and influenza activity. A 10% increase in relative sunlight decreases the influenza index in September by 3 points on a 10-point scale. This effect is far greater than the effect of vitamin D supplementation in randomized trials, a differential due to broad exposure to sunlight, h...
|September 2017||Medically Necessary but Forbidden: Reproductive Health Care in Catholic-owned Hospitals|
with Elaine L. Hill, Donna Ginther: w23768
The United States has recently seen a large increase in hospital mergers and acquisitions, and Catholic hospital systems have actively participated in this. As of 2016, 40% of the largest healthcare systems were faith-based, with 141 mergers between Catholic and non-Catholic systems since 1997. Mergers that affiliate a hospital with a Catholic owner, network, or system, are consequential because they reduce the set of possible medical procedures since Catholic hospitals are generally prohibited from providing procedures like tubal ligation. We examine the effect of changes in ownership from secular to Catholic (and vice versa) on reproductive health procedures that are likely to be affected. Using hospital-level variation in ownership status for 1002 hospitals, we estimate a difference-in...
|February 2017||Did Medicaid Expansion Reduce Medical Divorce?|
with Donna Ginther: w23139
Medical divorce occurs when couples divorce so that one spouse’s medical bills do not deplete the assets of the healthy spouse. We develop a model of medical divorce that demonstrates that divorce is optimal when a couple’s joint assets exceed the exempted asset level. We use the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion which removed asset tests to qualify for Medicaid as exogenous variation in the incidence of divorce. We find that the ACA expansion decreased the prevalence of divorce by 11.6% among those ages 50-64 with a college degree. Our results suggest that Medicaid expansion reduced medical divorce.
|October 2014||Second Trimester Sunlight and Asthma: Evidence from Two Independent Studies|
with Nils Wernerfelt, Richard Zeckhauser: w20599
One in twelve Americans suffers from asthma and its annual costs are estimated to exceed $50 billion. Simultaneously, the root causes of the disease remain unknown. A recent hypothesis speculates that maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy affect the probability the fetus later develops asthma. In two large-scale studies, we test this hypothesis using a natural experiment afforded by historical variation in sunlight, a major source of vitamin D. Specifically, holding the birth location and month fixed, we see how exogenous within-location variation in sunlight across birth years affects the probability of asthma onset. We show that this measurement of sunlight correlates with actual exposure, and consistent with pre-existing results from the fetal development literature, we find substa...
Published: Nils Wernerfelt & David J. G. Slusky & Richard Zeckhauser, 2017. "Second Trimester Sunlight and Asthma: Evidence from Two Independent Studies," American Journal of Health Economics, vol 3(2), pages 227-253. citation courtesy of