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Exogenous Increases in Basic Income Provisions Increase Preventative Health-Seeking Behavior: A Quasi-Experimental Study

Matt Motta and Kathryn Haglin
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Matt Motta: Boston University School of Public Health

No zpgn3, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: Universal Basic Income (UBI) policies have the potential to promote a wide range of public health objectives – including the consumption of healthful food, reducing anxiety associated with financial stressors (e.g., bill payments), and seeing a physician when sick – by providing those who qualify with direct cash payments. One overlooked mechanism of particular importance to health researchers is the possibility that guaranteed income might increase consultation of primary and preventive care (e.g., annual doctors’ visits; regular vaccination against infectious disease) by providing people with both the time and monetary resources to do so, thereby improving general health. We remedy this shortcoming by studying the effects of an exogenous shock to Alaska’s UBI payments to all state residents: the decision in 2022 to render the dividend’s “energy relief” provisions as non-taxable (thereby increasing payments by approximately $2,000 inflation-adjusted dollars). Quasi-experimental random effects regression modeling procedures suggest that the number of Alaskans who sought primary care post-reform (relative to beforehand) increased by 6pp, which was significantly greater than the same difference (2pp) observed across all other (non-UBI) US States (∆ = 4pp, p < 0.01). Relatedly, we detect suggestive evidence that comparatively fewer Alaskans had difficulty affording primary care during this period, although we find less consistent evidence that increased UBI payments increased flu vaccine uptake rates relative to the national average. Our results suggest that basic income policy ought to be thought about as a form of health policy, as it has the potential to advance a wide range of health objectives related to primary and preventive care.

Date: 2024-01-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea and nep-inv
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DOI: 10.31219/

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