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Measuring the (income) effect of disability insurance generosity on labour market participation

  • Marie, Olivier
  • Vall Castello, Judit

We analyze the employment effect of a law that provides for a 36% increase in the generosity of disability insurance (DI) for claimants who are, as a result of their lack of skills and of the labour market conditions they face, deemed unlikely to find a job. The selection process for treatment is therefore conditional on having a low probability of employment, making evaluation of its effect intrinsically difficult. We exploit the fact that the benefit increase is only available to individuals aged 55 or older, estimating its impact using a regression discontinuity approach. Our first results indicate a large drop in employment for disabled individuals who receive the increase in the benefit. Testing for the linearity of covariates around the eligibility age threshold reveals that the age at which individuals start claiming DI is not continuous: the benefit increase appears to accelerate the entry rate of individuals aged 55 or over. We obtain new estimates excluding this group of claimants, and find that the policy decreases the employment probability by 8%. We conclude that the observed DI generosity elasticity of 0.22 on labour market participation is mostly due to income effects since benefit receipt is not work contingent in the system studied.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 96 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 198-210

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:1:p:198-210
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly & Philip R. de Jong, 2008. "Curing the Dutch Disease: Lessons for United States Disability Policy," Working Papers wp188, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
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  3. Lalive, Rafael & Wuellrich, Jean-Philippe & Zweimüller, Josef, 2009. "Do Financial Incentives for Firms Promote Employment of Disabled Workers? A Regression Discontinuity Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7373, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Staubli, Stefan, 2011. "The impact of stricter criteria for disability insurance on labor force participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1223-1235, October.
  9. David Autor & Mark Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," NBER Working Papers 12436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sergi Jiménez Martín & Judit Vall Castello, 2009. "Business Cycle Effects on Labour Force Transitions for Older People in Spain," Working Papers 2009-25, FEDEA.
  12. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," NBER Working Papers 14726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Till von Wachter & Jae Song & Joyce Manchester, 2011. "Trends in Employment and Earnings of Allowed and Rejected Applicants to the Social Security Disability Insurance Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3308-29, December.
  14. Judit Vall Castello, 2010. "Promoting Employment of Disabled Women in Spain; Evaluating a Policy," Working Papers 2010-10, FEDEA.
  15. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  16. Bound, John & Cullen, Julie Berry & Nichols, Austin & Schmidt, Lucie, 2004. "The welfare implications of increasing disability insurance benefit generosity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2487-2514, December.
  17. Bell, David & Heitmueller, Axel, 2009. "The Disability Discrimination Act in the UK: Helping or hindering employment among the disabled?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 465-480, March.
  18. van Ours, J.C., 2006. "Leaving "Hotel California" : How Incentives Affect Flows of Benefit Recipients in the Netherlands," Discussion Paper 2006-116, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  19. Humer, Brigitte & Wuellrich, Jean-Philippe & Zweimüller, Josef, 2007. "Integrating Severely Disabled Individuals into the Labour Market: The Austrian Case," IZA Discussion Papers 2649, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  21. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2007. "Distinguishing Income from Substitution Effects in Disability Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 119-124, May.
  22. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan & David S. Lyle, 2011. "Battle Scars? The Puzzling Decline in Employment and Rise in Disability Receipt among Vietnam Era Veterans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 339-44, May.
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  24. Boyle, Melissa A. & Lahey, Joanna N., 2010. "Health insurance and the labor supply decisions of older workers: Evidence from a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expansion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(7-8), pages 467-478, August.
  25. Bound, John, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 482-503, June.
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