Date of Award

Summer 7-1-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Schwartz, Amy E.


Childhood Health, Health Insurance, Height, Special Education, Students with Disabilities

Subject Categories

Education | Education Policy | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation is comprised of three essays on education and childhood health. Each chapter examines the effect of health or health insurance coverage during childhood on schooling outcomes. Chapters 1 and 3 estimate the impact of insurance coverage for disability-related healthcare on academic and behavioral outcomes for students with disabilities. Chapter 1 exploits variation in Medicaid coverage for mental and behavioral healthcare generated by the Rosie D. vs. Patrick class action lawsuit. The resulting reforms improved outcomes for students diagnosed with an emotional disturbance and enabled them to be educated in more inclusive settings. The attendance rate for students with an emotional disturbance increased by 1.4 percentage points, days suspended decreased by 26% and the likelihood of being placed in a separate school decreased by 1.4 percentage points. Chapter 3 examines the impact of a mandate requiring private insurers in Massachusetts to cover the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The mandate improved academic outcomes and increased inclusion for students with ASD. Days suspended decreased by 26% and the likelihood of being fully included increased 4 percentage points. For students in grades 6 through 8, math (ELA) test scores improved by .09 (.13) sd. Chapter 2 explores the relationship between childhood height and academic achievement. This study documents that students in grades 3 through 8 score between .035 and .048 sd. higher in math and ELA for each one sd. increase in height. The height gradient is not explained by contemporaneous health, but time-invariant student characteristics correlated with height and achievement explain up to ¾ of the relationship. Ordinal height rank relative to peers has a small effect on achievement conditional on cardinal height.


Open Access