Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Randy Albelda

Second Advisor

Christian Weller

Third Advisor

Keith Bentele


This longitudinal research examines how employment-based benefits such as health insurance and paid time off, affect health status among U.S. workers and their spouses, and then explores how health status affects annual wage and salary earnings. A subsample of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics dataset is used in this analysis. The sample includes U.S. workers who were heads of household or spouses, ages 25-48 at baseline, consisting of six waves from1984-2007.

Enjoyment of good health is acknowledged to affect one's quality of life. Socio-economic determinants (e.g. race, gender and ability) have emerged to the foreground to explain health disparities. Insufficient research has been conducted on the effects of non-wage income (e.g. employment based-benefits) on health status. There has also been little focus on health status as a predictor of constrained earnings mobility. Health disparities has long been recognized as a public health issue, and this research posits it as an economic one, at a time when earnings are stagnating, the middle class is diminishing, and inequality is increasing in the United States.

Results from four types of models included herein indicate that continuous receipt of any type of health insurance over time is positively associated with better health status among heads and spouses. Additional results indicate that poorer health status contributes to lower wage earnings among heads and spouses. Personal characteristics that predict poorer health status include; being male, disabled, unemployed, attaining lower levels of education, living in the South, being nonwhite and ever having a chronic disease or psychiatric condition. Personal characteristics that predict lower wage earnings are the same, with the exception that being female has a negative effect in these models. Overall findings suggest that continuity of health insurance over time, prevention of physical and mental health problems, provision of education supports and employment supports among those with disabilities, contributes to better health status and subsequently, upward wage earnings mobility.


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