Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 391–406 | Cite as

Married Women’s Labor Supply and Spousal Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: Results from Panel Data

  • Jason E. MuraskoEmail author
Original Paper


This paper investigates the effect of spousal insurance coverage on married women’s labor supply. This effect was hypothesized to be negative, since married women have an incentive to seek employment in jobs that will provide insurance when their husbands do not provide coverage. Panel data from the 1996–2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys was used to control for the potential correlation between unobserved characteristics and spousal insurance. The findings suggest that spousal coverage does have a negative effect on married women’s labor supply, and that most of the reduction in labor supply seems to derive from shifts out of the labor force rather than between part-time and full-time work.


Health insurance Labor Marriage Panel data 


  1. Baydar, N., Joesch, J. M., Kieckhefer, G., Kim, H., & Greek, A. (2007). Employment behaviors of mothers who have a child with asthma. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 337–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blau, F. D., & Gilleskie, D. B. (2006). Health insurance and retirement of married couples. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 21, 935–953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blau, F. D., & Kahn, L. M. (2007). Changes in the labor supply behavior of married women: 1980–2000. Journal of Labor Economics, 25, 393–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Buchmueller, T. C., & Valletta, R. G. (1999). The effect of health insurance on married female labor supply. The Journal of Human Resources, 34, 42–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chou, Y. J., & Staiger, D. (2001). Health insurance and female labor supply in Taiwan. Journal of Health Economics, 20, 187–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Claxton, G., Gabel, J., Gil, I., Pickreign, J., Whitmore, H., Finder, B., et al. (2006). Health benefits in 2006: Premium increases moderate, enrollment in consumer-directed health plans remains modest. Health Affairs, 25, w476–w485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Currie, J., & Madrian, B. (1999). Health, health insurance and the labor market. In D. Card & O. Ashenfelter (Eds.), Handbook of labor economics (Vol. 3c, pp. 3309–3407). Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  8. Doumas, D. M., Margolin, G., & John, R. S. (2008). Spillover patterns in single-earner couples: Work, self-care, and the marital relationship. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 55–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gabel, J., Claxton, G., Holve, E., Pickreign, J., Whitmore, H., Dhont, K., et al. (2003). Health benefits in 2003: Premiums reach new thirteen-year high as employers adopt new forms of cost sharing. Health Affairs, 22, 117–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Greene, W. (2004). Fixed effects and bias due to the incidental parameters problem in the Tobit model. Econometric Reviews, 23, 125–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gruber, J., & Hanratty, M. (1995). The labor-market effects of introducing national health insurance: Evidence from Canada. Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, 13, 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gruber, J., & Madrian, B. C. (1995). Health insurance availability and the retirement decision. American Economic Review, 85, 938–948.Google Scholar
  13. Institute of Medicine. (2004). Insuring America’s health: Principles and recommendations. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jianakoplos, N. A., & Bernasek, A. (2008). Family financial risk taking when the wife earns more. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 289–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Johnson, R. W., Moon, M., & Davidoff, A. J. (2002). A Medicare buy-in for the near elderly: Design issues and potential effects on coverage. Retrieved from Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
  16. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (2005). Health coverage in America, 2004 data update. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Web site:
  17. Kalwij, A. S. (2004). A two-step first difference estimator for a panel data Tobit model under conditional mean independence assumptions (Discussion Paper 2004-67). Retrieved January 29, 2008, from Tilburg University Center Web Site:
  18. Kalwij, A. S., & Gregory, M. (2005). A panel data analysis of the effects of wages, standard hours and unionization on paid overtime work in Britain. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 168, 207–231.Google Scholar
  19. Kim, H., & DeVaney, S. A. (2005). The selection of partial or full retirement by older workers. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 26, 371–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Olson, C. A. (1998). A comparison of parametric and semiparametric estimates of the effect of spousal health insurance coverage on weekly hours worked by wives. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 13, 543–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rochina-Barrachina, M. E. (1999). A new estimator for panel data sample selection models. Annales d’Economie et de Statistique, 55/56, 153–181.Google Scholar
  22. Schaber, P. L., & Stum, M. S. (2007). Factors impacting group long-term care insurance enrollment decisions. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 189–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sharpe, D. L., & Baker, D. L. (2007). Financial issues associated with having a child with autism. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 247–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tomohara, A., & Lee, H. J. (2007). Did State Children’s Health Insurance Program affect married women’s labor supply? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 668–683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Wellington, A. J., & Cobb-Clark, D. A. (2000). The supply-side effects of universal health coverage: what can we learn from individuals with spousal coverage? In S. Polachek (Ed.), Worker well-being: Research on labor economics (Vol. 19, pp. 315–344). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  26. Wilson, M. R., Harold Van Houtven, C., Stearns, S. C., & Clipp, E. C. (2007). Depression and missed work among informal caregivers of older individuals with dementia. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 28, 684–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wooldridge, J. M. (1995). Selection corrections for panel data models under conditional mean independence assumptions. Journal of Econometrics, 68, 115–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wooldridge, J. M. (2002). Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BusinessUniversity of Houston-Clear LakeHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations