Yiing Jenq Chou
Dissertation Title: "Social Health Insurance and Saving in Taiwan; Health Insurance and Female Labor Supply; and Fertility and the Cost of Having a Child: Can the Government Influence Fertility Rate Through Incentives"
In this thesis, three important health policy issues in Taiwan were studied in three papers. In the first paper, "Social Health Insurance and Saving in Taiwan," a study was undertaken to assess the change in private saving behavior after the introduction of social health insurance in Taiwan. The special features of "Farmer Health Insurance" allowed design of a "natural experiment" for this study. The results show that only farmer families with elderly members responded to the introduction of health insurance by moderately increasing consumption expenditures. The magnitude of the consumption change can be partially explained by the government subsidy, providing some evidence in support of the theory of life-cycle saving. However, the small estimated change in consumption implies that previous studies that stressed the importance of precautionary motives for savings may have been overstated.
The second paper, "Health Insurance and Female Labor Supply," examines the impact of employment-linked health insurance on the female's labor participation decision, using natural experiments in Taiwan area to evaluate the importance of the availability of health insurance on female's employment decision. The findings show that an alternative health insurance policy for government employees' wives reduced their probability of being hired as an employee, and decreased their labor participation rate. Implementation of the Universal National Health Insurance Act in 1995 provided a "reverse experiment" that confirms these findings. Consistent results form the two natural experiments imply that the availability of health insurance is an important determinant of Taiwanese women's labor market participation.
The third paper is entitled, "Fertility and the Cost of Having a Child: Can the Government Influence Fertility Rate through Incentives? " This paper uses a natural experiment in Taiwan to estimate the effect of incentives on fertility behavior. A change in the government employee benefit plan in July 1993 provides a good instrument for identifying the relationship between the cost of raising a child and the fertility decision. The primary result is that the incentive embodied in the policy change had a positive and significant effect on the birth rate. Government employees indeed responded to the incentive by increasing their fertility rate after the benefit plan change.