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The Importance of Objective Health Measures in Predicting Early Receipt of Social Security Benefits: The Case of Fatness

Author

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  • Richard Burkhauser

    (Cornell University)

  • John Cawley

    (Cornell University)

Abstract

Theoretical models argue that poor health will contribute to early exit from the labor market and the decision to take early Social Security retirement benefits (Old-Age or OA benefits). However, most empirical estimates of the causal importance of health on the decision to take early OA benefits have been forced to rely on global measures such as self-rated work limitations or self-rated health. We contribute to the empirical literature by using a more objective measure of health, fatness, to predict early receipt of OA benefits. We do so by estimating the causal impact of fatness within an empirical model using the method of instrumental variables, and testing the robustness of our findings using the most common measure of fatness in the social science literature - body mass index - with what is a more theoretically appropriate measure of fatness - total body fat and percent body fat. Overall, our conclusion is that fatness and obesity are strong predictors of early receipt of OA benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Burkhauser & John Cawley, 2006. "The Importance of Objective Health Measures in Predicting Early Receipt of Social Security Benefits: The Case of Fatness," Working Papers wp148, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp148
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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp148.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & John Cawley, 2004. "Obesity, Disability, and Movement Onto the Disability Insurance Rolls," Working Papers wp089, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Bound, John & Stinebrickner, Todd & Waidmann, Timothy, 2010. "Health, economic resources and the work decisions of older men," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 106-129, May.
    3. Darius Lakdawalla & Tomas Philipson, 2002. "The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination," Working Papers 0203, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    4. Currie, Janet & Madrian, Brigitte C., 1999. "Health, health insurance and the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 50, pages 3309-3416 Elsevier.
    5. Chou, Shin-Yi & Grossman, Michael & Saffer, Henry, 2004. "An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 565-587, May.
    6. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status," NBER Working Papers 11343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Darius Lakdawalla & Dana Goldman & Jay Bhattacharya, 2001. "Are the Young Becoming More Disabled?," NBER Working Papers 8247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:5:834-840_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mathilde Godard, 2017. "Gaining weight through retirement? Results from the SHARE survey," Working Papers halshs-01525000, HAL.
    2. Erik Meijer & Arie Kapteyn & Tatiana Andreyeva, 2008. "Health Indexes and Retirement Modeling in International Comparisons," Working Papers 614, RAND Corporation.
    3. Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2009. "Expanding wallets and waistlines: the impact of family income on the BMI of women and men eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(11), pages 1277-1294.
    4. Qing Li & Alain A. Cohen & Linda P. Fried, 2017. "A novel health metric based on biomarkers," Cahiers de recherche 17-08, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke.
    5. Erik Meijer & Arie Kapteyn & Tatiana Andreyeva, 2008. "Health Indexes and Retirement Modeling in International Comparisons," Working Papers WR-614, RAND Corporation.

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