The effects of occupational licensing reform for nurse practitioners on children's health

Originally published in Southern Economic Journal

We examine how scope of practice reforms that allow nurse practitioners independent practice authority impact children's health. We exploit spatial and temporal variation in independent practice authority to implement a difference-in-differences research design using data from the first three waves of the National Survey of Children's Health. We find that these reforms have significant positive impacts on a commonly used and validated measure of children's health: parental evaluation of child health. As a result of this scope of practice reforms, parental evaluations of overall child health improve as parents increasingly rate their child as having Excellent Health. More importantly, we observe these improvements in health are driven primarily by older children and children from lower family income backgrounds. These findings indicate that an expansion in the supply of healthcare through occupational licensing reform can positively influence health outcomes for children. Such findings have important implications for mitigating child health inequality.

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