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Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors

  • Kreider, Brent
  • Pepper, John V.

Measurement error in health and disability status has been widely accepted as a central problem for social science research. Long-standing debates about the prevalence of disability, the role of health in labor market outcomes, and the influence of federal disability policy on declining employment rates have all emphasized issues regarding the reliability of self-reported disability. In addition to random error, inaccuracy in survey datasets may be produced by a host of economic, social, and psychological factors that can lead respondents to misreport work capacity. We develop a nonparametric foundation for assessing how assumptions on the reporting error process affect inferences on the employment gap between the disabled and nondisabled. Rather than imposing the strong assumptions required to obtain point identification, we derive sets of bounds that formalize the identifying power of primitive nonparametric assumptions that appear to share broad consensus in the literature. Within this framework, we introduce a finite-sample correction for the analog estimator of the monotone instrumental variable (MIV) bound. Our empirical results suggest that conclusions derived from conventional latent variable reporting error models may be driven largely by ad hoc distributional and functional form restrictions. Under relatively weak nonparametric assumptions, nonworkers appear to systematically overreport disability.

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Article provided by American Statistical Association in its journal Journal of the American Statistical Association.

Volume (Year): 102 (2007)
Issue (Month): (June)
Pages: 432-441

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Handle: RePEc:bes:jnlasa:v:102:y:2007:m:june:p:432-441
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  9. Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2003. "Inferring Disability Status from Corrupt Data," Staff General Research Papers 10228, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  11. Parsons, Donald O., 1996. "Imperfect 'tagging' in social insurance programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 183-207, October.
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  13. Horowitz, J.L. & Manski, C.F., 1995. "Censoring of Outcomes and Regressors Due to Survey Nonresponse: Identification and estimation Using Weights and Imputations," Working Papers 95-12, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
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  16. Benitez-Silva, Hugo & Buchinsky, Moshe & Chan, Hiu Man & Rust, John & Sheidvasser, Sofia, 1999. "An empirical analysis of the social security disability application, appeal, and award process," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 147-178, June.
  17. Bound, John & Burkhauser, Richard V., 1999. "Economic analysis of transfer programs targeted on people with disabilities," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 51, pages 3417-3528 Elsevier.
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