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The effect of self-employed health insurance subsidies on self-employment


  • Heim, Bradley T.
  • Lurie, Ithai Z.


This paper estimates the effect of an increase in the deductibility of health insurance premiums for self-employed individuals on the probability of being self-employed. Using a panel of tax returns from 1999 to 2004, we estimate fixed effects instrumental variable regressions for the probability of being self-employed, entering into self-employment, and exiting from self-employment. Our results suggest that this policy increased the probability of being self-employed by 1.5 percentage points, and increased the probability that a taxpayer would be primarily or exclusively self-employed by 1.1 and 0.35 percentage points respectively. These effects explain about a third to a half of the total increase in self-employment by these definitions over the sample period. We also find that the probability of entering self-employment increased by 0.8 percentage points and find suggestive evidence that the probability of exit decreased by 2.8 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Heim, Bradley T. & Lurie, Ithai Z., 2010. "The effect of self-employed health insurance subsidies on self-employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 995-1007, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:11-12:p:995-1007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gulcin Gumus & Tracy Regan, 2007. "Self-Employment and the Role of Health Insurance," Working Papers 0910, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    2. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, "undated". "Trends in Self-Employment Among White and Black Men: 1910 - 1990," IPR working papers 99-1, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    3. Gulcin Gumus & Tracy Regan, 2006. "Tax Incentives as a Solution to the Uninsured: Evidence from the Self-Employed," Working Papers 0911, University of Miami, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2008.
    4. Bruce, Donald, 2000. "Effects of the United States tax system on transitions into self-employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 545-574, September.
    5. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2002. "Health Insurance, Labor Supply, and Job Mobility: A Critical Review of the Literature," JCPR Working Papers 255, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    6. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Penrod, John R. & Rosen, Harvey S., 1996. "Health insurance and the supply of entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 209-235, October.
    7. Parker, Simon C, 1996. "A Time Series Model of Self-Employment under Uncertainty," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(251), pages 459-475, August.
    8. Jon Bakija, 2006. "Documentation for a Comprehensive Historical U.S. Federal and State Income Tax Calculator Program," Department of Economics Working Papers 2006-02, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Aug 2009.
    9. Fairlie, Robert W. & Kapur, Kanika & Gates, Susan, 2011. "Is employer-based health insurance a barrier to entrepreneurship?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 146-162, January.
    10. Lo Sasso, Anthony T. & Lurie, Ithai Z., 2009. "Community rating and the market for private non-group health insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 264-279, February.
    11. Heim, Bradley T. & Lurie, Ithai Z., 2009. "Do increased premium subsidies affect how much health insurance is purchased? Evidence from the self-employed," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1197-1210, December.
    12. Alison J. Wellington, 2001. "Health Insurance Coverage And Entrepreneurship," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(4), pages 465-478, October.
    13. Thomas M. Selden, 2009. "The Impact of Increased Tax Subsidies on the Insurance Coverage of Self-Employed Families: Evidence from the 1996–2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    14. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    15. 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.
    16. Jonathan Gruber & James Poterba, 1994. "Tax Incentives and the Decision to Purchase Health Insurance: Evidence from the Self-Employed," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 701-733.
    17. R. Glenn Hubbard & William M. Gentry, 2000. "Tax Policy and Entrepreneurial Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 283-287, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fossen, Frank M. & König, Johannes, 2015. "Public health insurance and entry into self-employment," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112934, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. repec:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9856-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Azuara, Oliver, 2011. "Effect of universal health coverage on marriage, cohabitation and labor force participation," MPRA Paper 35074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Gumus, Gulcin & Regan, Tracy L., 2015. "Self-employment and the role of health insurance in the U.S," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 357-374.
    5. Bradley Heim, 2015. "Understanding the decline in self-employment among individuals nearing retirement," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 561-580, October.
    6. Tuzemen, Didem & Becker, Thealexa, 2014. "Self-employment and health care reform: evidence from Massachusetts," Research Working Paper RWP 14-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    7. repec:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9843-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Azuara, Oliver & Marinescu, Ioana, 2013. "Informality and the expansion of social protection programs: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 938-950.
    9. Bradley Heim & Ithai Lurie, 2014. "Does health reform affect self-employment? Evidence from Massachusetts," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 917-930, December.
    10. Azuara, Oliver & Marinescu, Ioana, 2011. "Informality and the expansion of social protection programs," MPRA Paper 35073, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. 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).


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