Scott Imberman

Institution: Michigan State University

Scott Imberman is a Professor of Economics and Education Policy at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Maryland. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow with the Center for Economic Studies – Ifo Institute in Germany, and a co-editor for Economics of Education Review. His work has been published in both economics and education policy outlets including the American Economic Review, the American Economic Journal – Economic Policy, Education Finance and Policy, the Journal of Public Economics, and the Review of Economics and Statistics. Dr. Imberman’s research focuses on the economics of education and he has studied a variety of topics including charter schools, teacher incentives, gifted and talented programs, peer effects, capitalization of school quality, and the labor market returns to higher education. His current research agenda looks at economic and education policy issues related to education of students with disabilities with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is also conducting research on the role of students’ higher education decisions such as major choice on labor market outcomes.


Riley Acton, Scott Imberman, Michael F. Lovenheim.

Social programs and mandates are usually studied in isolation even though they often interact closely with each other. Given the immense recent changes to health insurance systems, there is much potential for spillover effects to other systems in which health plays a large role. In this study, we examine how health insurance interacts with education, specifically the education of students with disabilities. We present the first analysis in the literature of how a mandate for health insurers to cover therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) up to age 18 affects educational services received by, and test scores of, students with ASD. A key aspect of the mandate is that children covered by Medicaid aged out of benefits quickly (by age 6), leaving them with a far weaker benefit than children covered by private insurance. Since we do not observe insurance status directly, we proxy for private insurance coverage using ineligibility for free/reduced-price lunch (FRPL) and estimate impacts on identification with ASD, special education services, and achievement through a series of difference-in-differences and triple difference models. We find little evidence of an overall shift in ASD identification, but we do find substantial crowd-out of special education services for students with ASD from the mandate. The stronger mandate led to increased mainstreaming of students in general education classrooms and a reduction in special education support services like teacher consultants. Girls in particular are more likely to be mainstreamed. There is little evidence of changes in achievement, which supports our interpretation of the service reductions as crowd-out.

More →