Social insurance typically is offered by the federal government and mandated at the employer and/or individual levels. The earliest major form of such insurance was Workmen’s (now Workers’) Compensation at the state level. Federally sponsored Social Security and unemployment insurance – a joint federal and state program – were initiated in the 1930s. Medicare was added as a federal program in the 1960s. Some states, in addition, offer disability insurance.
As the tax system evolved, various incentives (rather than mandates) were provided to encourage employers to offer private pensions, health insurance, and other forms of insurance to workers. Most recently, federal legislation has sought to expand health insurance coverage in a complex system involving Medicare and Medicaid at the federal level, insurance exchanges at the state level, and private insurance through employers. This research cluster examines the labor-market impacts of the various forms of social insurance.