The Effect of Health on the Work Effort of Single Mothers
Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation are used to investigate ways in which health influences a single mother's decision whether to work: the direct effect of a woman's health on work effort and potential wage; the impact of her children's health on hours available to work; and the impact of health on the values of health insurance and Medicaid associated with work and AFDC participation, respectively. Simulations suggest that wage subsidies and decreases in AFDC benefits are unlikely to increase the labor force participation of single mothers in poor health or with disabled children, as they face limitations on work hours and the kinds of work they can perform that prohibit them from earning enough to stay out of poverty. Extending health insurance coverage to all children of single mothers regardless of AFDC status would induce a large percentage of these mothers to seek and accept employment, as would a pay-or-play insurance plan covering all workers (and their dependents) who work 15 or more hours a week.
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