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Designing optimal disability insurance

  • Mikhail Golosov
  • Aleh Tsyvinski

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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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Working Papers with number 628.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:628
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  1. Sheshinski, E. & Diamond, P., 1992. "Economic Aspects of Optimal Disability Benefits," Working papers 92-5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Mikhail Golosov & Narayana Kocherlakota & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2002. "Optimal Indirect and Capital Taxation," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 391749000000000449, www.najecon.org.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Williamson, S. & Wang, C., 1995. "Unemployment Insurance with Moral Hazard in a Dynamic Economy," Working Papers 95-09, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2001. "The Rise in Disability Recipiency and the Decline in Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 8336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Bound & Julie Berry Cullen & Austin Nichols & Lucie Schmidt, 2002. "The Welfare Implications of Increasing Disability Insurance Benefit Generosity," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  10. 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.
  11. Albanesi, Stefania & Sleet, Christopher, 2003. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  13. 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.
  14. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2000. "How Large is the Bias in Self-Reported Disability?," Working Papers 2000-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  15. Abraham Arpad & Nicola Pavoni, 2004. "Efficient Allocations, with Moral Hazard and Hidden Borrowing and Lending," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000138, UCLA Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Insurance Markets," NBER Working Papers 11185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
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