Document Type



Using a sample of 2,271 workers from the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce whose employers offered personal health insurance, this article investigates the gendered nature of health insurance benefit take-ups. These analyses include family and employment characteristics in addition to employers’ contributions to health insurance premiums, a measure that is unexamined in sociological analyses of health benefits. Progressive logistic regression models predict the effects of gender and family characteristics. Results indicate that women with employed spouses are less likely to take up their own health benefits than are comparable men, net of basic employment characteristics. Gender differences disappear, however, when controlling for the level of employer contributions: women and men are equally likely to draw on their own employer’s health benefits once we account for their out-of-pocket expense. The authors conclude that family contexts and employment structures jointly influence individuals’ choices about their health benefits. The gendered structure of employment and, specifically, gendered patterns in employer contributions to health benefits are a better explanation for women’s lower chances of benefit take-ups than gender relations within families.


Gender; Health insurance; Take-ups


Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Health Policy | Medicine and Health | Sociology

Publisher Citation

Gendered Disparities in Take-Ups of Employee Health Benefits Jennifer Reid Keene and Anastasia H. Prokos Sociological Perspectives , Vol. 53, No. 4 (Winter 2010), pp. 503-526 Published by: University of California Press Article DOI: 10.1525/sop.2010.53.4.503 Article Stable URL:

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