IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Health, Mental Health and Labor Productivity: The Role of Self-Reporting Bias


  • Leroux, Justin

    (Rice U)

  • Rizzo, John

    (Ohio State U)

  • Sickles, Robin

    (Rice U)


This paper relates physical and mental health status to labor force participation and compares these relationships among self-report and proxy respondents. Previous research has conjectured that self-reports of health status may lead to an upward bias in the estimated effect of health on labor productivity because subjects who are out of the labor force may be more likely to understate their health status so as to justify their lack of employment. Also, we integrate mental health into our study by using two alternative approaches-logistic regression analysis and propensity scoring methods. We find that among the cohort of self-reporters, physical health has a substantially stronger impact on labor productivity than mental health; precisely the opposite patterns were obtained when physical and mental health status were reported by proxy respondents. These results suggest the self-reports may lead to a bias in estimating labor productivity costs of physical versus mental health on labor force participation by overestimating the importance of good physical health and underestimating the role of good mental health. This in turn suggests that the benefits of more generous mental health insurance benefits may have been underappreciated in the medical policy debates.

Suggested Citation

  • Leroux, Justin & Rizzo, John & Sickles, Robin, 2004. "Health, Mental Health and Labor Productivity: The Role of Self-Reporting Bias," Working Papers 2004-09, Rice University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:riceco:2004-09

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sickles, Robin C & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "An Analysis of the Health and Retirement Status of the Elderly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1339-1356, November.
    2. 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.
    3. Guido W. Imbens, 1999. "The Role of the Propensity Score in Estimating Dose-Response Functions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sickles, Robin C. & Taubman, Paul, 1993. "Mortality and morbidity among adults and the elderly," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 559-643 Elsevier.
    5. Hernan M. A & Brumback B. & Robins J. M, 2001. "Marginal Structural Models to Estimate the Joint Causal Effect of Nonrandomized Treatments," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 440-448, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:riceco:2004-09. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.