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Does employer-provided health insurance constrain labor supply adjustments to health shocks? New evidence on women diagnosed with breast cancer


  • Bradley, Cathy J.
  • Neumark, David
  • Barkowski, Scott


Employment-contingent health insurance may create incentives for ill workers to remain employed at a sufficient level (usually full-time) to maintain access to health insurance coverage. We study employed married women, comparing the labor supply responses to new breast cancer diagnoses of women dependent on their own employment for health insurance with the responses of women who are less dependent on their own employment for health insurance, because of actual or potential access to health insurance through their spouse's employer. We find evidence that women who depend on their own job for health insurance reduce their labor supply by less after a diagnosis of breast cancer. In the estimates that best control for unobservables associated with health insurance status, the hours reduction for women who continue to work is 8 to 11% smaller. Women's subjective responses to questions about working more to maintain health insurance are consistent with the conclusions from observed behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Bradley, Cathy J. & Neumark, David & Barkowski, Scott, 2013. "Does employer-provided health insurance constrain labor supply adjustments to health shocks? New evidence on women diagnosed with breast cancer," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 833-849.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:5:p:833-849
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.06.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Cawley & Asako S. Moriya & Kosali Simon, 2015. "The Impact of the Macroeconomy on Health Insurance Coverage: Evidence from the Great Recession," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 206-223, February.
    2. Cathy Bradley & David Neumark & Meryl Motika, 2012. "The effects of health shocks on employment and health insurance: the role of employer-provided health insurance," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 253-267, December.
    3. Brigitte C. Madrian, 1994. "Employment-Based Health Insurance and Job Mobility: Is there Evidence of Job-Lock?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 27-54.
    4. Kanika Kapur, 1998. "The Impact of Health on Job Mobility: A Measure of Job Lock," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(2), pages 282-298, January.
    5. Donna B. Gilleskie & Byron F. Lutz, 2002. "The Impact of Employer-Provided Health Insurance on Dynamic Employment Transitions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 129-162.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert W. Fairlie & Kanika Kapur & Susan Gates, 2016. "Job Lock: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 92-121, January.
    2. Thomas Barnay & Mohamed Ali Ben Halima & Emmanuel Duguet & Christine Leclainche & Camille Regaert, 2016. "The Effects Of Breast Cancer On Individual Labour Market Outcomes: An Evaluation From An Administrative Panel," Working Papers halshs-01374467, HAL.
    3. Heinesen, Eskil & Kolodziejczyk, Christophe, 2013. "Effects of breast and colorectal cancer on labour market outcomes—Average effects and educational gradients," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1028-1042.
    4. Andrew M. Jones & Nigel Rice & Francesca Zantomio, 2016. "Acute health shocks and labour market outcomes," Working Papers 2016:09, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    5. Matthew J. Hill & Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen, 2014. "Source of health insurance coverage and employment survival among newly disabled workers: Evidence from the health and retirement study," Economics Working Papers 1451, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    6. Jeon, Sung-Hee & Pohl, R. Vincent, 2017. "Health and work in the family: Evidence from spouses’ cancer diagnoses," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-18.
    7. Trevisan, Elisabetta & Zantomio, Francesca, 2016. "The impact of acute health shocks on the labour supply of older workers: Evidence from sixteen European countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 171-185.
    8. Matthew Hill & Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen, 2014. "Source of Health Insurance Coverage and Employment Survival Among Newly Disabled Workers Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Working Papers WR-1040, RAND Corporation.
    9. Nga Le Thi Quynh & Groot, Wim & Tomini, Sonila M. & Tomini, Florian, 2017. "Effects of health insurance on labour supply: A systematic review," MERIT Working Papers 017, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item


    Health insurance; Labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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