Incarceration and Mortality

Sebastian Daza



American exceptionalism


Expansion of Punishment

  • Currently, about 2,000,000 people are locked up in the US


US Health Disadvantage

Why health might be affected?

Research Questions

  • What is the long-term association between imprisonment and mortality in the US?
  • How much of the gap in mortality between the US and the UK can be attributed to different incarceration regimes?




  • Panel Study of Income Dynamic (PSID)

    • Since 1968, the survey has followed the same families

    • The first wave included roughly 5,000 families (18,000 individuals)

    • Recent waves have about 9,000 families (22,000 individuals)

  • Covariates

    • Age, gender, race, education attainment, household income, and health


  • Survival Parametric Models (Gompertz)

    • Validate set up of the data using the underlying US population
  • Survival Semi-parametric Models (Cox)

  • Sensitivity Analysis

  • Decomposition


Incidence Mortality

Mortality Gap US - UK



  • Incarceration is associated with a moderate risk of mortality

    • Losses of life expectancy at age 50 of about 4 years or 12% of current U.S. life expectancy
  • The fraction of the mortality gap between the US and the UK that can be attributed to imprisonment experience ranges from 2% to 10%

Broader Thoughts

  • Unintended consequences of incarceration
    • Integration of exclusion
  • Cost vs Benefit
    • Reduction of crime?
    • Negative effects
  • Human rights