Stephen A. Woodbury

Stephen A. Woodbury Senior Economist

Dr. Woodbury is a labor economist who has published articles on unemployment insurance, reemployment programs, pensions, health insurance, and nonwage compensation. He is currently director of a National Academy of Social Insurance project on “Strengthening Unemployment Insurance for the Twenty-First Century.” Dr. Woodbury has served on the faculty at Michigan State University since 1982 and has been a professor of economics there since 1994.

Brief Bio        Full CV


Research Focus: Strengthening Unemployment Insurance for the Twenty-First Century

The Great Recession has placed unusual demands and stress on the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and revealed problems in the systems adequacy, coverage, funding, reemployment services, and administration. During 2010–2011, Steve Woodbury has directed a project for the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) to describe the problems in the UI system and consider solutions.

The first stage of the project was a national roundtable convened by NASI in Washington, DC. The roundtable brought together about 70 government officials, legislative staff, researchers from think tanks and academe, representatives of employers and workers, and other interested parties:

Roundtable Report

The roundtable participants identified research questions essential to improving the UI program:

Research Agenda Summary

Research Focus: Health Insurance Tax Credits

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 introduced a refundable tax credit for low-income working families who purchased health insurance coverage for their children. This health insurance tax credit (HITC) existed during tax years 1991, 1992, and 1993, and was then rescinded. We use Current Population Survey data and a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the HITC’s effect on private health insurance coverage of low-earning single mothers. The findings suggest that during 1991-1993, the health insurance coverage of single mothers was about 6 percentage points higher than it would have been in the absence of the HITC.

Health Insurance Tax Credits and Health Insurance Coverage of Low-Earning Single Mothers

Research Focus: Health Insurance & Retirement

Health insurance for early retirees represents a substantial benefit to workers and a potential incentive to retire early. This paper examines whether the influence of employer offers of early retiree health benefits (RHBs) differs for workers of different ages. The issue is important because, if RHBs influence the retirement decisions only of eligible workers who are nearing age 65, the effects on labor supply and employer costs would be quite different than if they affected the retirement of all eligible workers equally, as is often assumed. This paper applies three well-known panel estimators to a sample of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) men observed over a period of up to 12 years and find that RHBs have little or no effect on retirement decisions of men in their 50s; however, a substantial effect emerges for men in their early 60s. Simulations illustrate these findings and show how RHB’s alter retirement patterns.

The Influence of Retiree Health Benefits on Retirement Patterns