Date of Award

8-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Applied Economics

Advisor

Simon, Curtis J.

Committee Member

Maloney , Michael T.

Committee Member

Sauer , Raymond D.

Committee Member

Warner , John T.

Abstract

This dissertation contains a detailed picture of the employment-based health insurance coverage in the past twenty years, and it provides new estimates of the effects of increased federal and state minimum wages on the coverage of low-wage workers by this type of health insurance. I use March Current Population Surveys collected from IPUMS, for 1988 to 2005. Previous studies have found no significant evidence that increased minimum wages reduce fringe benefit receipt (Beeson Royalty 2000; Simon and Kaestner 2003). In contrast to these studies, I use a difference-in-difference approach and I define treatment groups as being individuals in the lowest 1 and 2 deciles of the hourly wage distribution. Little evidence was found for the federal minimum wage increase of 1990-91, but estimates of the effect of the 1996-97 increase suggest a small negative impact for younger workers and workers in smaller firms. At the state level, I find more suggestive results of a negative impact of the minimum wage increases. New Jersey (1992) and Massachusetts (2000-2001) exhibit negative effects of being in the treatment group on the probability of having employment-based health insurance for most of the specifications, while the results in Oregon (1991) and Connecticut (2000-2001) are more sensitive to the specification. The results suggest that being in the treatment group makes individuals 3 to 4 percentage points less likely to be policyholders of employment-based health insurance compared to the control group.

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