September 21, 2021, 09:30–11:00
Econometrics and Empirical Economics Seminar
We study the contribution of health shocks to earnings inequality and uncertainty in labor market outcomes. We calibrate a life-cycle model of labor supply and savings that incorporates health and health shocks. Our model features endogenous wage formation via human capital accumulation, employer sponsored health insurance, and meanstested social insurance. We find a substantial part of the impact of health shocks on earnings arises via reduced human capital accumulation. Health shocks account for 15% of lifetime earnings inequality for U.S. males, with two-thirds of this due to behavioral responses. In particular, it is optimal for low-skill workers - who often lack employer sponsored insurance - to curtail labor supply to maintain eligibility for means-tested transfers that protect them from high health care costs. This causes low-skill workers to invest less in human capital. Provision of public health insurance can alleviate this problem and enhance labor supply and human capital accumulation.