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Work Disability, Work, and Justification Bias in Europe and the U.S

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  • Arie Kapteyn
  • James P. Smith
  • Arthur van Soest

Abstract

To analyze the effect of health on work, many studies use a simple self-assessed health measure based upon a question such as “do you have an impairment or health problem limiting the kind or amount of work you can do?” A possible drawback of such a measure is the possibility that different groups of respondents may use different response scales. This is commonly referred to as “differential item functioning” (DIF). A specific form of DIF is justification bias: to justify the fact that they don’t work, non-working respondents may classify a given health problem as a more serious work limitation than working respondents. In this paper we use anchoring vignettes to identify justification bias and other forms of DIF across countries and socio-economic groups among older workers in the U.S. and Europe. Generally, we find differences in response scales across countries, partly related to social insurance generosity and employment protection. Furthermore, we find significant evidence of justification bias in the U.S. but not in Europe, suggesting differences in social norms concerning work.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15245.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Publication status: published as Work Disability, Work, and Justification Bias in Europe and the United States , Arie Kapteyn, James P. Smith, Arthur van Soest. in Explorations in the Economics of Aging , Wise. 2011
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15245

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  1. Soest, A.H.O. van & Delaney, L. & Harmon, C. & Kapteyn, A. & Smith, J.P., 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2007-43, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2005. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0504006, EconWPA.
  3. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur Van Soest & James Banks, 2007. "Labor Market Status and Transitions during the Pre-Retirement Years: Learning from International Differences," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 536, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  4. Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2003. "Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors," Staff General Research Papers 10229, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. John Bound, 1991. "Self-Reported Versus Objective Measures of Health in Retirement Models," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 106-138.
  6. Petri Böckerman & Pekka Ilmakunnas, 2009. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: evidence from panel data," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 161-179.
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Cited by:
  1. Hyunseung Oh & Ricardo Reis, 2011. "Targeted Transfers and the Fiscal Response to the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 16775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Messinis, George, 2013. "Returns to education and urban-migrant wage differentials in China: IV quantile treatment effects," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 39-55.
  3. Jousten, Alain & Lefèbvre, Mathieu, 2013. "Retirement Incentives in Belgium: Estimations and Simulations Using SHARE Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7387, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Jürges, Hendrik, 2012. "Do workers underreport morbidity? The accuracy of self-reports of chronic conditions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(9), pages 1589-1594.
  5. Richard W. Johnson & Melissa M. Favreault & Corina Mommaerts, 2009. "Work Ability and the Social Insurance Safety Net in the Years Prior to Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2009-28, Center for Retirement Research, revised Nov 2009.
  6. Andrew M. Jones; Nigel Rice, Silvana Robone; & Nigel Rice; & Silvana Robone:, 2012. "A comparison of parametric and non-parametric adjustments using vignettes for self-reported data," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York 12/10, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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