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Job Lock: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

  • Robert W Fairlie

    (University of California)

  • Kanika Kapur

    (University College Dublin)

  • Susan Gates

    (RAND)

Employer-provided health insurance in the United States is suspected of restricting job mobility, resulting in “job lock.” Previous research on job lock finds mixed results using several methodologies. We take a new approach to examine whether employer-based health insurance discourages job mobility by exploiting the discontinuity created at age 65 through the qualification for Medicare. Using a novel procedure for identifying age in months from matched monthly CPS data and a relatively unexplored administration measure of job mobility, we compare job mobility among male workers in the months just prior to turning age 65 to job mobility in the months just after turning age 65. We find no evidence that job mobility increases at the age 65 threshold when Medicare eligibility starts. Our results are robust to different bandwidths, non-linear age profiles, and frequency of age measurement. The upper bounds of 95 percent confidence intervals for these estimates can rule out the existence of any job lock in some cases, and in most cases can rule out the large levels of job lock found in many previous studies in the literature. We also do not find evidence that other factors such as retirement, reduction in hours worked, social security eligibility, pension eligibility, and sample changes confound the results on job mobility in the month individuals turn 65.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP12_15.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
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Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201215.

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Length: 70 pages
Date of creation: 23 Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201215
Contact details of provider: Postal: UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4
Phone: +353-1-7067777
Fax: +353-1-283 0068
Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischmann & James B. Rebitzer, 2005. "Job Hopping in Silicon Valley: Some Evidence Concerning the Micro-Foundations of a High Technology Cluster," NBER Working Papers 11710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Hamersma, Sarah & Kim, Matthew, 2009. "The effect of parental Medicaid expansions on job mobility," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 761-770, July.
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  15. Anna Sanz-De-Galdeano, 2006. "Job-Lock and Public Policy: Clinton's Second Mandate," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(3), pages 430-437, April.
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  18. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2012. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 933-959.
  19. Boyle, Melissa A. & Lahey, Joanna N., 2010. "Health insurance and the labor supply decisions of older workers: Evidence from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expansion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 467-478, August.
  20. Donna B. Gilleskie & Byron F. Lutz, 2002. "The Impact of Employer-Provided Health Insurance on Dynamic Employment Transitions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(1), pages 129-162.
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  22. Madrian, Brigitte C, 1994. "Employment-Based Health Insurance and Job Mobility: Is There Evidence of Job-Lock?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 27-54, February.
  23. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2008. "The State Children's Health Insurance Program and Job Mobility: Identifying Job Lock among Working Parents in Near-Poor Households," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(4), pages 564-579, July.
  24. Jonathan Gruber & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1994. "Health Insurance and Job Mobility: The Effects of Public Policy on Job-Lock," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(1), pages 86-102, October.
  25. Ludwig, Jens & Miller, Douglas L., 2006. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," IZA Discussion Papers 2111, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  28. Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black & Frank A. Scott, 2004. "Is There Job Lock? Evidence from the Pre-HIPAA Era," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 953-976, April.
  29. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  32. Kanika Kapur, 1998. "The Impact of health on job mobility: A measure of job lock," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(2), pages 282-298, January.
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