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Spousal Labor Market Effects from Government Health Insurance: Evidence from a Veterans Affairs Expansion

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  • Melissa A. Boyle

    (Department of Economics, College of the Holy Cross)

  • Joanna N. Lahey

    (Department of Economics, Texas A&M University)

Abstract

Although government expansion of health insurance to older workers leads to labor supply reductions for recipients, there may be spillover effects on the labor supply of affected spouses who are not covered by the programs. In the simplest model, health insurance on the job is paid for in terms of lower compensation on the job. Receiving health insurance exogenous to employment is akin to a positive income shock for the household, causing total household labor supply to drop. However, it is not clear within the household whether this decrease in labor supply will be borne by both spouses or by a specific spouse. We use a mid-1990s expansion of health insurance for U.S. veterans to provide evidence on the effects of expanding health insurance availability on the labor supply of spouses. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we employ a difference-in-differences strategy to compare the labor market behavior of the wives of older male veterans and non-veterans before and after the VA health benefits expansion to test the impact of public health insurance on these spouses. Our findings suggest that although household labor supply may decrease because of the income effect, the more flexible labor supply of wives allows the wife’s labor supply to increase, particularly for those with lower education levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Melissa A. Boyle & Joanna N. Lahey, 2011. "Spousal Labor Market Effects from Government Health Insurance: Evidence from a Veterans Affairs Expansion," Working Papers 1111, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hcx:wpaper:1111
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    3. Lluis, Stephanie & McCall, Brian, 2022. "Spousal labour supply adjustments to extended benefits weeks: Evidence from Canada," CLEF Working Paper Series 42, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    4. Zheng Shen & Xiaodong Zheng & Yiwen Tan, 2019. "The Spillover Effects of Spousal Chronic Diseases on Married Couples’ Labour Supply: Evidence from China," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(21), pages 1-18, October.
    5. 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 2017-017, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    6. Zheng Shen & Xiaodong Zheng & Hualei Yang, 2020. "The fertility effects of public pension: Evidence from the new rural pension scheme in China," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(6), pages 1-17, June.
    7. Stephanie Lluis & Brian McCall, "undated". "Spousal Labour Supply Adjustments," Working Papers 1810, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics.
    8. Michael S. Kofoed & Wyatt J. Frasier, 2019. "[Job] Locked and [Un]loaded: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act Dependency Mandate on Reenlistment in the U.S. Army," Upjohn Working Papers 19-300, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    9. Kevin Wood, 2019. "Health insurance reform and retirement: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(12), pages 1462-1475, December.
    10. Erkmen Giray Aslim, 2019. "The Relationship Between Health Insurance and Early Retirement: Evidence from the Affordable Care Act," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 45(1), pages 112-140, January.
    11. Vipul Bhatt, 2017. "Cohort Differences in Joint Retirement: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 38(4), pages 475-495, December.
    12. Kadir Atalay & Garry F. Barrett & Peter Siminski, 2019. "Pension incentives and the joint retirement of couples: evidence from two natural experiments," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(3), pages 735-767, July.
    13. Lingchen Liu & Renji Sun & Yan Gu & Kung Cheng Ho, 2020. "The Effect of China’s Health Insurance on the Labor Supply of Middle-aged and Elderly Farmers," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(18), pages 1-23, September.
    14. repec:mrr:papers:wp341 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Xiaoxue Li, 2020. "Quality information disclosure and health insurance demand: evidence from VA hospital report cards," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 177-199, June.
    16. Witman, Allison, 2015. "Public health insurance and disparate eligibility of spouses: The Medicare eligibility gap," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 10-25.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Economics; Labor force participation;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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