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The Work Disincentive Effects of the Disability Insurance Program in the 1990s

  • Susan Chen
  • Wilbert van der Klaauw

In this paper we evaluate the work disincentive effects of the Disability Insurance program during the 1990s. To accomplish this we construct a new large data set with detailed information on DI application and award decisions and use two different econometric evaluation methods. First, we apply a comparison group approach proposed by John Bound to estimate an upper bound for the work disincentive effect of the current DI program. Second, we adopt a Regression-Discontinuity approach that exploits a particular feature of the DI eligibility determination process to provide a credible point estimate of the impact of the DI program on labor supply for an important subset of DI applicants. Our estimates indicate that during the 1990s the labor force participation rate of DI beneficiaries would have been at most 20 percentage points higher had none received benefits. In addition, we find even smaller labor supply responses for the subset of ’marginal’ applicants whose disability determination is based on vocational factors.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2006/CES-WP-06-05.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 06-05.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:06-05
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  1. Thomas DeLeire, 2000. "The Wage and Employment Effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working Papers 0008, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  3. Haveman, Robert H. & Wolfe, Barbara L., 1984. "Disability transfers and early retirement: a casual relationship?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 47-66, June.
  4. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2002. "Accounting for Recent Declines in Employment Rates among Working-Aged Men and Women with Disabilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 231-250.
  5. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin Murphy & Robert Topel, 2002. "Current Unemployment, Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 79-136.
  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. John Bound & Richard Burkhauser & Austin Nichols, 2001. "Tracking the Household Income of SSDI and SSI Applicants," Working Papers wp009, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  8. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  9. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise In The Disability Rolls And The Decline In Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-205, February.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working papers 98-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1997. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 5888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bound, John & Waidmann, Timothy, 1992. "Disability Transfers, Self-Reported Health, and the Labor Force Attachment of Older Men: Evidence from the Historical Record," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1393-419, November.
  14. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-34, February.
  15. Newey, Whitney K & Powell, James L & Walker, James R, 1990. "Semiparametric Estimation of Selection Models: Some Empirical Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 324-28, May.
  16. Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 5866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Christine Jolls & J.J. Prescott, 2004. "Disaggregating Employment Protection: The Case of Disability Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 10740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Bound, John, 1991. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1427-34, December.
  21. Asch, Beth & Haider, Steven J. & Zissimopoulos, Julie, 2005. "Financial incentives and retirement: evidence from federal civil service workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 427-440, February.
  22. Haveman, Robert H & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1984. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 532-41, June.
  23. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2000. "Accounting for Recent Declines in Employment Rates among the Working-Aged Disabled," NBER Working Papers 7975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  25. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
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