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Occupational Choice, Retirement, and the Effects of Disability Insurance

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Abstract

There is much variation in the physical requirements across occupations, giving rise to great differences in later-life productivity, disability risk, and the value of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In this paper, I look at how such differences across occupations affect initial career choice as well as the extent to which SSDI, which insures shocks to productivity due to disability, prompts more people to choose physically intense occupations. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS), I estimate a dynamic model of occupational choice and retirement with heterogeneous agents and equilibrium effects on earnings across occupations. I document the differences between blue-collar and white-collar occupations in the effects of declining health and disability on productivity, which affects labor supply in later life and, in the context of a life-cycle model, influences the occupation decision. Through counterfactual exercises, I show that the additional disability risk in blue-collar jobs relative to white-collar jobs is equivalent to an additional six percentage point reduction in lifetime consumption and that the absence of SSDI, which insures some of this risk, would be equivalent to, respectively, a twelve and seven percent reduction in consumption for those in blue- and white- collar jobs. Furthermore, I find that the presence of SSDI results in three percent more individuals choosing blue-collar occupations, which is comparable to the effect on occupation selection resulting from an eight-percent increase in blue-collar earnings. This overall effect, however, masks the importance of the selection of less risk-averse individuals into blue-collar jobs and the equilibrium effects on wages; earnings for the most risk-averse type would have to be nearly fifteen percent greater to choose blue-collar{{p}}occupations in the absence of SSDI.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindsay Jacobs, 2016. "Occupational Choice, Retirement, and the Effects of Disability Insurance," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2016-051, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2016-51
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2016.051
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giovanni Gallipoli & Laura Turner, 2009. "Household Responses to Individual Shocks: Disability and Labor Supply," Working Paper series 04_09, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    2. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
    3. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    4. Matthew Johnson & Michael P. Keane, 2013. "A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of the US Wage Structure, 1968-1996," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-49.
    5. 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.
    6. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
    7. Richard V. Burkhauser & J. S. Butler & Gulcin Gumus, 2004. "Dynamic programming model estimates of Social Security Disability Insurance application timing," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 671-685.
    8. Kreider, Brent, 1999. "Social Security Disability Insurance: Applications, Awards, and Lifetime Income Flows," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 784-827, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2017. "Health, Health Insurance, and Retirement: A Survey," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 383-409, September.
    2. Lee, Siha, 2020. "Household responses to disability shocks: Spousal labor supply, caregiving, and disability insurance," CLEF Working Paper Series 21, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    3. Siha Lee, 2020. "Spousal Labor Supply, Caregiving, and the Value of Disability Insurance," Department of Economics Working Papers 2020-08, McMaster University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Occupational choice; Disability; Life-cycle modeling; Retirement;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C63 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computational Techniques
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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