Do shifts toward service industries, part-time work, and self-employment explain the rising uninsured rate?
It is conventional wisdom 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-time to part-time jobs and to self-employment; and 2) changes in the industrial mix of employment, especially toward the service industries. This paper uses the March Current Population Survey data from 1980 through 1987 to measure the contribution of these factors to the rise in the uninsured. In the first case, we find the premise of rising part-time work and self-employment to be untrue. In the second case, less than 15% of the decline in health insurance over this period was due to employment shifting from higher-coverage to lower-coverage industries. Instead, the decline resulted from falling coverage rates across all industries. This is not to dismiss the possible importance of such employment trends over decades, but to emphasize the need to investigate other causes of the change during recent years