This study estimates the causal impact of variation in the expenditures of California county departments of public health on all-cause mortality rates and the associated value of lives saved. Since the activities of county departments of public health are likely to affect mortality rates with a lag, Koyck distributed lag models are estimated using the Lewbel instrumental variables estimator. The findings show that an additional $10 per capita of public health expenditures reduces all-cause mortality by 9.1 deaths per 100,000. At current funding levels, the long-run annual number of lives saved by the presence of county departments of public health in California is estimated to be approximately 27,000 (26,937 lives, 95% confidence interval: [11,963, 41,911]). The annual value of these lives is estimated to be worth $212.8 billion using inflation-adjusted standard U.S. government estimates of the value of a statistical life ($7.9 million).
Keywords: All-cause mortality; California; Dynamic panel models; Lewbel instrumental variables; Public health expenditures.
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