Office-Based Mental Healthcare and Juvenile Arrests
We estimate the effect of local access to office-based mental healthcare on juvenile arrest outcomes. We leverage variation in the number of mental healthcare offices within a county over the period 1999 to 2016 in a two-way fixed-effects model. Office-based treatment is the most common modality of mental healthcare received by juveniles. We find that ten additional office-based mental healthcare providers in a county leads a decrease of 2.3% to 2.6% in the per capita costs to society of juvenile arrest. Findings are similar for arrest rates although often less precise, which suggests that accounting for social costs is empirically important. Crime imposes substantial costs on society and individuals, and interventions during early life can have more pronounced effects than those received at later stages, therefore our results imply increased juvenile access to mental healthcare may have an unintended benefit for the current and future generations.
All authors contributed equally to this study. Authors are listed in alphabetical order. We thank seminar participants at the American Society of Health Economists Annual meeting and the Essen Economics of Mental Health Workshop, Panka Bencsik and Douglas Webber for helpful comments. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.