The effect of self-employment on health, access to care, and health behavior


The focus of this paper is to investigate the role self-employment conceptualized as a lifestyle factor on health, access to health care, and health behaviors. We analyze rich data on 13,435 working adults in the US, who are either selfemployed or salaried workers. Outcomes include physical and mental health perception, validated indexes of physical and mental health, and medical conditions; access-to-care measures such as a barrier to obtaining necessary health care; and health behaviors such as smoking, physical activity and body mass index. Instrumental variables methods are used to correct for selection into self-employment. We find that self-employment is positively associated with perceived physical health, and is negatively associated with having diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arthritis. No mental health outcome is significantly associated with self-employment. There is no significant difference between self-employed and wage-earning individuals with regard to access to care. Self-employed individuals are less likely to smoke, and are more likely to participate in physical activity and have normal-weight. We conclude that despite lack of health insurance, self-employed persons in the US are as healthy as wage-earners, do not experience a greater barrier to access to care, and are more likely to engage in healthy behavior.

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Yoon, J. and Bernell, S. (2013) The effect of self-employment on health, access to care, and health behavior. Health, 5, 2116-2127. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.512289.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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