Mental and Behavioral Health

Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?

William H. Dow, Anna Godoey, Christopher Lowenstein and Michael Reich released a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper investigating whether “deaths of despair” respond to two key policies that raise incomes for low-wage workers: the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

How the Opioid Epidemic Impacts Children

The impact of the opioid epidemic on children, their families, and on child-serving systems (early childhood education, schools, child welfare, etc.) is not well understood. This exploratory project will examine some of the most critical dimensions, urgent challenges, and important nuances for policymakers and others, drawing on a review of the existing literature and a deeper dive into two states at the forefront of the opioid epidemic.

Foreclosure’s Effects on Family Health and Well-being

A growing literature has documented the detrimental effects of housing instability (often generated by evictions and foreclosures) on health. Using the RealtyTrac foreclosure dataset, which includes information on every foreclosure action in the U.S. between 2006 and 2015, the research team will match foreclosures with Medicaid address data and follow units through the foreclosure process (from initial notification that a mortgage holder is behind on their payments through repossession by the lender).

Better Supporting the Needs of Children in Tennessee

Leveraging more than a decade’s worth of data, the researchers will examine relationships between at-risk children’s health and education outcomes, as well as access to public services. This is vital information as states across the country, and Tennessee in particular, adopt new laws and resolutions that encompass a wide range of policy actions related to child health and education.

The Effect of Minimum Wages on “Deaths of Despair”

In 2017, economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton coined the phrase “deaths of despair” to describe a troubling rise of Americans dying from suicide, drugs (including opioids) and alcoholism. Experts across the country are now attempting to tease apart the complex factors driving these trends, but until now, no one has examined the potentially causal effects of decreases in real minimum wages in relation to this trend or the potential benefits of rising minimum wages in counteracting other drivers of this trend, despite a strong evidence base linking income and health.

Cross-post

Last week, an editorial on the decline in US life expectancy, authored by P4A codirector Laudan Aron and Stephen Woolf, director of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, was published in the British Medical Journal.

Cross-post

Five years ago, a groundbreaking report showed people in the US in worse health and dying younger than those in other rich nations. Today, despite the alarm the report generated, we learned that life expectancy in the country declined for a second year in a row – astonishing by any standard.

Diverting Opioid Addicts Away from Criminal Justice and Toward Treatment

In 2016, the Chicago Police Department developed a pilot pre-arrest diversion strategy, the Westside Narcotics Diversion and Treatment Initiative (WNDTI), to respond to the opioid crisis in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. The goal was to encourage police officers to redirect low-level drug offenders (users and sellers) to treatment, instead of jail and prosecution. This strategy was modeled after a promising program in Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).

Cross-post

As we close out Older Americans Month, we reflect on how Meals on Wheels—and programs like it—can offer critical support for its clients’ physical and mental health.