Effects of health insurance on labour supply: a systematic review

Nga Le*, Wim Groot, Sonila M. Tomini, Florian Tomini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic review of empirical evidence on the labour market effects of health insurance from the supply side. Design/methodology/approach The study covers the largest peer-reviewed and working paper databases for labour economics and health studies. These include Web of Science, Google Scholar, Pubmed and the most popular economics working paper sources such as NBER, ECONSTOR, IDEAS, IZA, SSRN, World Bank Working Paper Series. The authors follow the PRISMA 2009 protocol for systematic reviews. Findings The collection includes 63 studies. The outcomes of interest are the number of hours worked, the probability of employment, self-employment and the level of economic formalisation. The authors find that the current literature is vastly concentrated on the USA. Spousal coverage in the USA is associated with reduced labour supply of secondary earners. The effect of Medicaid in the USA on the labour supply of its recipients is ambiguous. The employment-coverage link is an important determinant of the labour supply of people with health problems and self-employment decisions. Universal coverage may create either an incentive or a disincentive to work depending on the design of the system. Finally, evidence on the relationship between health insurance and the level of economic formalisation in developing countries is fragmented and limited. Practical implications - This study reviews the existing literature on the labour market effects of health insurance from the supply side. The authors find a large knowledge gap in emerging economies where health coverage is expanding. The authors also highlight important literature gaps that need to be filled in different themes of the topic. Originality/value This is the first systematic review on the topic which is becoming increasingly relevant for policy makers in developing countries where health coverage is expanding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-767
Number of pages51
JournalInternational Journal of Manpower
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Systematic review
  • Health insurance
  • Labour supply
  • Labour market


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