Incarceration and Health in a Life Course Perspective: A Semiparametric Approach

Valerio Bacak, University of Pennsylvania

There is a growing consensus that incarceration may lead to adverse health outcomes, but there is little direct evidence about the reasons why. In most health related research, incarceration has been measured as a one-off event. Yet the experience of incarceration may have a different impact based on when it takes place for the first time, how long it lasts, and how often it occurs. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, I examine how timing, frequency, and duration modify the impact of incarceration on physical and mental health. With little guidance from theory or empirical research that would indicate the appropriate functional form of the relationship between these characteristics of incarceration and health, I use generalized additive models to derive the form inductively. The analysis is informed by the social stress literature and early prison sociology.

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Presented in Session 180: Incarcerated, Foster Care, and Juvenile Justice Youth: Development and Outcomes