Combining two interests

Karin Dienst


Princeton NJ -- As a pre-medical student majoring in economics, Craig Perry used his senior thesis to combine these two interests. His thesis examines issues of health care and health insurance among the self-employed.

Turned on to the topic by the ongoing public policy debate about the lack of health insurance among owners of small businesses, Perry, whose adviser is economics professor Harvey Rosen, asks if the relatively low rates of health insurance coverage among the self-employed do in fact lead to lower utilization of health services and poorer health.

Finding very little written on the subject, Perry analyzed data from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In summary, Perry said that he "found that health insurance's effects on health care utilization and health outcomes among the self-employed are not nearly as important as legislators and policy makers have suggested."

Perry's thesis posits that the self-employed generally do not use fewer health services than traditional wage-earners, and that they appear to be able to finance these services from sources other than insurance.

"It is hard to lavish too much praise on this piece of research," said Rosen. "It deals with virtually every important aspect of the links among health, insurance and self-employment. The statistical work is executed with great technical skill and subtlety."

Perry's research proved to be more than a fulfillment of an academic requirement -- last year he and Rosen presented this work at an international economics conference in Munich, Germany.

"Professor Rosen and I worked together to polish what I had done in order to submit a paper," said Perry. "The conference itself was a great experience. There's nothing quite like standing up in front of experts who are three times your age, trying to deliver your own research."

Perry said that the best part of the senior thesis project was "getting to work side-by-side with one of the best public finance professors in the world."

Perry hopes that his research will be used to "help shape public policies directed toward health care issues."

After graduation, Perry will work for the Princeton University Investment Company while considering professional school.


May 7, 2001
Vol. 90, No. 27
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Senior thesis
Independent work caps Princeton experience
Delving into bioethics
Researching the court
Combining two interests
Analyzing theses topics

Minicourses provide 'continuing education'
Dale touched students lives
Faculty team serves up a slice of the universe

Communiversity 2001
PWB readers surveyed soon


By the numbers: Endowed professorships
Nassau Notes
Calendar of events

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Editor: Ruth Stevens
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Contributing writers: Karin Dienst, Jennifer Greenstein, Marilyn Marks, Caroline Moseley, Steven Schultz, Lauren Sun
Photographer: Denise Applewhite
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