Developing a portable benefits system to serve non-traditional workers

Approximately one in ten workers participate in non-traditional work arrangements (temporary, on-call, contract, and independent contractors), which often do not include employer-provided benefits. One promising policy solution is a system of portable benefits in which benefits are tied to workers rather than employers. As a new policy solution, there is not yet research that measures the impact of such a system on workers or on how to optimize such a system to maximize participation. The University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab and Matt Notowidigdo, propose a two-phase study to develop a system that workers want and will use. In Phase I, researchers will use surveys to better understand the type and structure of benefits desired by non-traditional workers and to assess both worker and employer willingness to pay. In Phase II, the research team will develop a randomized controlled trial (RCT)  based on the results of worker and employer preferences obtained in Phase I. The RCT will measure take-up of the program in addition to labor market and health and well-being outcomes. The results of this evaluation will help policymakers best target benefits to workers and could provide a blueprint for similar systems across the U.S.

RFP Cycle:
WOtF RFP VI [March 2021]
United States of America
  • Pilot project