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How Large is the Bias in Self-Reported Disability?

  • Hugo Benitez-Silva
  • Moshe Buchinsky
  • Hiu Man Chan
  • Sofia Cheidvasser
  • John Rust

A pervasive concern with the use of self-reported health measures in behavioural models is that individuals tend to exaggerate the severity of health problems in order to rationalize their decisions regarding labour force participation, application for disability benefits, etc. We re-examine this issue using a self-reported indicator of disability status from the Health and Retirement Study. We study a subsample of individuals who applied for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), for whom we can also observe the SSA's decision. Using a battery of tests, we are unable to reject the hypothesis that self-reported disability is an unbiased indicator of the SSA's decision. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2000-01.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2000-01
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Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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  1. Horowitz, Joel L. & Spokoiny, Vladimir G., 1999. "An adaptive, rate-optimal test of a parametric model against a nonparametric alternative," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1999,10, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  2. Debra S. Dwyer & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "Health Problems as Determinants of Retirement: Are Self-Rated Measures Endogenous?," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-7, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1994. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Public Economics 9406005, EconWPA, revised 06 Jul 1994.
  4. Kathryn H. Anderson & Richard V. Burkhauser, 1985. "The Retirement-Health Nexus: A New Measure of an Old Puzzle," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(3), pages 315-330.
  5. Steven Stern, 1989. "Measuring the Effect of Disability on Labor Force Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 361-395.
  6. Parsons, Donald O, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1419-26, December.
  7. Robert Haveman & Philip de Jong & Barbara Wolfe, 1991. "Disability Transfers and the Work Decision of Older Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(3), pages 939-949.
  8. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, March.
  9. Jianting Hu & Kajal Lahiri & Denton R. Vaughan & Bernard Wixon, 2001. "A Structural Model Of Social Security'S Disability Determination Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 348-361, May.
  10. Bierens, Herman J, 1990. "A Consistent Conditional Moment Test of Functional Form," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1443-58, November.
  11. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2000. "How Large is the Bias is Self-Reported Disability?," NBER Working Papers 7526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bound, John & Schoenbaum, Michael & Stinebrickner, Todd R. & Waidmann, Timothy, 1999. "The dynamic effects of health on the labor force transitions of older workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 179-202, June.
  13. John Bound & Michael Schoenbaum & Timothy Waidmann, 1995. "Race and Education Differences in Disability Status and Labor Force Attachment," NBER Working Papers 5159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. R. V. Burkhauser & R. H. Haveman & B. L. Wolfe, . "How people with disabilities fare when public policies change," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 974-92, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  15. 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.
  16. Halpern, Janice & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Choice under uncertainty: A model of applications for the social security disability insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 131-161, November.
  17. repec:att:wimass:9429 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-59, July.
  19. Horowitz, Joel L. & Spokoiny, Vladimir G., 1999. "An Adaptive, Rate-Optimal Test of a Parametric Model Against a Nonparametric Alternative," Working Papers 99-02, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  20. 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.
  21. Kerkhofs, Marcel & Lindeboom, Maarten & Theeuwes, Jules, 1998. "Retirement, financial incentives and health," Serie Research Memoranda 0042, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  22. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. John Rust & Department of Economics & University of Wisconsin, 1994. "Using Randomization to Break the Curse of Dimensionality," Computational Economics 9403001, EconWPA, revised 04 Jul 1994.
  24. Donald W. K. Andrews & Moshe Buchinsky, 2000. "A Three-Step Method for Choosing the Number of Bootstrap Repetitions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 23-52, January.
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