Older Doctoral Scientists and Engineers: Selected Labor Force Characteristics

Health Insurance Benefits

Health insurance benefits may be related to scientists' and engineers' employment decisions. Health insurance costs are on the rise and may constitute a major expense for older or retired workers. Over 90 percent of employed doctoral scientists and engineers aged 64 or younger had health insurance benefits made available to them that were at least partially paid for by their employers (table 7).[17] Older doctoral scientists and engineers had substantially lower proportions with health insurance benefits made available to them: 79 percent for those aged 65-69, and 58 percent for those aged 70-75. These smaller percentages may be attributable to older scientists and engineers being more likely to receive Medicare benefits, to work part time or be self-employed, to have benefits from a previous position, or to have spouses with benefits covering both.

Table 7. Scientists and engineers whose employers made available at least partially paid health benefits by age, highest degree level, and employment sector: 1997
Table 7 source dataExcel

Across employment sectors, older doctoral scientists and engineers working in industry (which includes the self-employed) were less likely to have health benefits partially funded by their employer than those in education or government. For those 65 or older, half (50 percent) working in the industry had employer-provided health benefits available to them, compared with three-quarters (75 percent) in government and 84 percent in education. This latter result also may reflect the higher tendency of older doctoral scientists and engineers employed in education and government to be in full-time employment.

For all age groups, doctoral scientists and engineers were more likely to have access to health benefits at least partially paid for by their employers than their counterparts with their highest degree at the bachelor's or master's level (table 7). For those 65 or older, the availability of benefits was reported by 72 percent of doctoral scientists and engineers compared with 42 and 43 percent of those with bachelor's or master's degrees, respectively, as their highest degree.


[17] The survey question was as follows: "Concerning your principal job during the week of April 15, were any of the following benefits available to you, even if you chose not to take them?" One of four multiple response (Yes-No) items was: "Health insurance that was at least partially paid for by your employer."

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