Do Shifts Toward Service Industries, Part-Time Work, and Self-Employment Explain the Rising Uninsured Rate?

Published In: Inquiry, v. 32, no. 1, Spring 1995, p. 111-116

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1995

by Stephen H Long, Jack Rodgers

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Conventional wisdom has it that the increase in the number of uninsured people during the 1980s was due in part to systematic trends in employment--specifically: (1) shifts from full- to part-time jobs and to self-employment; and (2) changes in the industrial mix of employment, especially toward the service industries. This article used the March Current Population Survey data from 1980 to 1987 to measure the contribution of these factors to the increase in the uninsured population. The authors found the premise of increasing part-time work and self-employment to be untrue. They also found that less than 15 percent of the decline in health insurance during this period was due to employment shifting from higher- to lower-coverage industries. Instead, the decline resulted from falling coverage rates across all industries. The article emphasizes the need to investigate other causes for the change in the number of uninsured persons during recent years.

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