Estimating the Compensating Differential for Employer-Provided Health Insurance
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The theory of wage differentials argues that workers must pay for employer-provided group health insurance coverage through lower wages or reductions in other fringe benefits. This paper uses data from the 1988–90 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) to estimate the wage-health insurance trade-off for male workers between the ages of 25 and 55. A fixed-effects model, which takes advantage of the rotating panel design of the CEX, is used to control for unobservable worker characteristics that are positively related with all forms of compensation, including wage earnings and health insurance coverage. I find a compensating differential for health insurance equal to roughly 10 to 11 percent of wages. Some caution is advised here due to the fact that I was unable to control for other fringe benefits, the most important being paid vacation and sick leave.
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