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Labor Market Responses to Rising Health Insurance Costs

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  • Madrian, Brigitte
  • Cutler, David

Abstract

Increases in the cost of providing health insurance must have some effect on labor markets, either in lower wages, changes in the composition of employment, or both. Despite a presumption that most of this effect will be in the form of lower wages, we document in this paper a significant effect on work hours as well. Using data from the CPS and the SIPP, we show that rising health insurance costs over the 1980s increased the hours worked of those with health insurance by up to 3 percent. We argue that this occurs because health insurance is a fixed cost, and as it becomes more expensive to provide, firms face an incentive to substitute hours per worker for the number of workers employed.

Suggested Citation

  • Madrian, Brigitte & Cutler, David, 1998. "Labor Market Responses to Rising Health Insurance Costs," Scholarly Articles 2643643, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2643643
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    File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/2643643/cutler_labormarket.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Françoise Delmez & Vincent Vandenberghe, 2017. "Working long hours: less productive but less costly? Firm-level evidence from Belgium," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2017022, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Kanika Kapur & José J. Escarce & M. Susan Marquis & Kosali I. Simon, 2005. "Where do the sick go? Health insurance and employment in small and large firms," Open Access publications 10197/259, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Kolstad, Jonathan T. & Kowalski, Amanda E., 2016. "Mandate-based health reform and the labor market: Evidence from the Massachusetts reform," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 81-106.
    4. repec:bla:scandj:v:119:y:2017:i:4:p:910-938 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Grace Weishi Gu, 2018. "Employment and the Cyclical Cost of Worker Benefits," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 28, pages 96-120, April.
    6. Lehrer, Steven F. & Pereira, Nuno Sousa, 2007. "Worker sorting, compensating differentials and health insurance: Evidence from displaced workers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1034-1056, September.
    7. Robin Boadway & Zhen Song & Jean-François Tremblay, 2017. "Optimal Income Taxation and Job Choice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 119(4), pages 910-938, October.
    8. William R. Johnson, 2011. "Fixed Costs and Hours Constraints," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(4), pages 775-799.
    9. Xuguang Guo & Ran Tao, 2015. "Health Benefit Downward Rigidity: Employers’ Responses to Rising Insurance Costs," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 18(2), pages 217-241, September.
    10. repec:bla:indres:v:56:y:2017:i:1:p:122-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Joanna N. Lahey, 2012. "The efficiency of a group‐specific mandated benefit revisited: The effect of infertility mandates," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(1), pages 63-92, December.
    12. DeVaro, Jed & Maxwell, Nan L., 2014. "The elusive wage-benefit trade-off: The case of employer-provided health insurance," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 23-37.
    13. Katherine Baicker & Amitabh Chandra, 2006. "The Labor Market Effects of Rising Health Insurance Premiums," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 609-634, July.
    14. repec:lrc:larrss:v:2:y:2017:i:3:p:1-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Peter Kuhn & Fernando Lozano, 2008. "The Expanding Workweek? Understanding Trends in Long Work Hours among U.S. Men, 1979-2006," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 311-343, April.
    16. Stephen DeLoach & Jennifer Platania, 2013. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Financing Health Insurance," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 19(2), pages 107-129, May.
    17. repec:eee:jhecon:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:45-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Bailey, James & Webber, Douglas A., 2015. "Health Insurance Benefit Mandates and the Firm-Size Distribution," IZA Discussion Papers 9292, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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