“Researchers at Emory University found that expanding health care coverage increases the use of substance abuse treatment and reduces aggravated assault, robbery, and larceny, according to their new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.”
The study — which controlled for economic, demographic, and law enforcement differences in different areas of the country — found that both reforms increased the treatment rate for substance abuse, and that doing so decreased crime as well. Overall, the researchers concluded that a 10% increase in the substance abuse treatment rate reduces robbery by 3%, reduces aggravated assault by 4 to 9%, and reduces larceny theft by 2 to 3%. They also find that it’s a good investment: For $1 spent on treatment, an estimated $1.60 to $3 are saved due to crime reduction.
“To put these numbers into context, incarceration, which has been attributed to one third of the crime decline during the 1990s, has a benefit-cost ratio centered around 1.5,” the authors write. “Therefore, [substance abuse] treatment not only appears to be a more effective but also a more cost-effective alternative to incarceration at reducing crime.”
Source: MSNBC.com – October 7, 2014