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Designing Optimal Disability Insurance

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  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Aleh Tsyvinski

Abstract

In this paper we describe how to optimally design a disability insurance system. The key friction in the model is imperfectly observable disability. We solve a dynamic mechanism design problem and provide a theoretical and numerical characterization of the social optimum. We then propose a simple tax system that implements an optimal allocation as a competitive equilibrium. The tax system that we propose includes only taxes and transfers that are similar to those already present in the U.S. tax code: a savings tax and an asset-tested transfer program. Using a numerical simulation, we compare our optimal disability system to the current disability system. Our results suggest a significant welfare gain from switching to an optimal system.
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Suggested Citation

  • Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000217, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:506439000000000217
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wang, Cheng & Williamson, Stephen, 1996. "Unemployment insurance with moral hazard in a dynamic economy," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-41, June.
    2. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 569-587.
    6. Abraham, Arpad & Pavoni, Nicola, 2004. "Efficient Allocations with Moral Hazard and Hidden Borrowing and Lending," Working Papers 04-05, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    7. 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.
    8. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 1992. "Disability Transfers, Self-Reported Health, and the Labor Force Attachment of Older Men: Evidence from the Historical Record," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1393-1419.
    9. 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.
    10. Diamond, P. A. & Mirrlees, J. A., 1978. "A model of social insurance with variable retirement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 295-336, December.
    11. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Insurance Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 487-534.
    12. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2001. "The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment," JCPR Working Papers 226, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    13. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2004. "How large is the bias in self-reported disability?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 649-670.
    14. Diamond, Peter & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1995. "Economic aspects of optimal disability benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-23, May.
    15. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-438, April.
    16. Armstrong, Mark & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 1999. "Multi-dimensional screening:: A user's guide," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 959-979, April.
    17. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1986. " Payroll-Tax Financed Social Insurance with Variable Retirement," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(1), pages 25-50.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salvador Ball & Amadéo Spadaro, 2006. "Optimal nonlinear labor income taxation in dynamic economies," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590555, HAL.
    2. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, September.
    3. Nicola Pavoni & G. L. Violante, 2007. "Optimal Welfare-to-Work Programs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 283-318.
    4. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2007. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Insurance Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 487-534.
    5. Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Pareto efficient income taxation with stochastic abilities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 844-868, April.
    6. Stefania Albanesi & Christopher Sleet, 2006. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 1-30.
    7. Athreya, Kartik B. & Simpson, Nicole B., 2006. "Unsecured debt with public insurance: From bad to worse," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 797-825, May.
    8. da Costa, Carlos E. & Maestri, Lucas J., 2007. "The risk properties of human capital and the design of government policies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 695-713, April.
    9. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2004. "Wedges and Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 109-113, May.
    10. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
    11. Yuzhe Zhang, 2005. "Dynamic contracting, persistent shocks and optimal taxation," Working Papers 640, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    12. Assar Lindbeck & Mats Persson, 2013. "A continuous model of income insurance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(6), pages 938-960, December.
    13. Narayana R Kocherlakota, 2005. "Advances in Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000518, UCLA Department of Economics.
    14. Jean-Marie Lozachmeur, 2006. "Disability insurance and optimal income taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 13(6), pages 717-732, November.

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