Date of Degree
This dissertation contains economic analyses of two critical social issues facing the United States at the dawn of the 21st century: income inequality and the affordability of health insurance.
The chapter on income inequality uses the Solow Model of economic growth to model the evolution of inequality over time. In steady state, differences in household saving rates generate differences in household capital income. Households that save more accumulate more capital and have higher steady-state income. Tax policy affects the distribution of income through its influence on household saving rates. Increasing the tax rate on labor income causes a greater percentage decrease in the steady-state saving rates of relatively low savers, thus increasing pre-tax income inequality. Conversely, increasing the tax rate on capital income reduces pre-tax income inequality because it causes a greater percentage decrease in the steady-state saving rates of relatively high savers. Empirical tests of the model using data from the March Current Population Survey and NBER's TAXSIM model suggest that higher taxes on wage income are associated with higher levels of income inequality. A high degree of correlation among the average marginal tax rates prevents us from drawing inferences about the effect that taxation of capital income has on inequality.
The chapter on health insurance examines states' efforts to make health insurance more accessible and affordable to small employers by restricting insurers' ability to set premium rates on the basis of health status and other factors which predict a group's future medical needs. The chapter presents evidence that rating restrictions reduce health insurance coverage rates and increase market concentration in the insurance industry. From the perspective of a public policymaker however, such reforms may still be desirable if they increase the ability of less healthy individuals to obtain and afford health insurance coverage.
Doviak, Eric, "Essays on Economic Policy: Income Inequality and Health Insurance" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.