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Labor Market Responses to Rising Health Insurance Costs: Evidence on Hours Worked

  • David M. Cutler
  • Brigitte C. Madrian

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5525.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5525.

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Date of creation: Apr 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 29 (1998): 509-530.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5525
Note: AG HC PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Montgomery, Mark, 1988. "On the Determinants of Employer Demand for Part-Time Workers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 112-17, February.
  2. Jonathan Gruber & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "The Incidence of Mandated Employer-Provided Insurance: Lessons from Workers' Compensation Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 111-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mark Montgomery & James Cosgrove, 1993. "The effect of employee benefits on the demand for part-time workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(1), pages 87-98, October.
  4. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  5. David Bradford, 1991. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 5," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number brad91-1.
  6. Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Some Simple Economics of Mandated Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 177-83, May.
  7. Trejo, Stephen J, 1991. "The Effects of Overtime Pay Regulation on Worker Compensation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 719-40, September.
  8. Mark Montgomery & James Cosgrove, 1993. "The Effect of Employee Benefits on the Demand for Part-Time Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(1), pages 87-98, October.
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