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Disability Risk and the Value of Disability Insurance

  • Amitabh Chandra
  • Andrew A. Samwick

We estimate consumers%u2019 valuation of disability insurance using a stochastic lifecycle framework in which disability is modeled as permanent, involuntary retirement. We base our probabilities of worklimiting disability on 25 years of data from the Current Population Survey and examine the changes in the disability gradient for different demographic groups over their lifecycle. Our estimates show that a typical consumer would be willing to pay about 5 percent of expected consumption to eliminate the average disability risk faced by current workers. Only about 2 percentage points reflect the impact of disability on expected lifetime earnings; the larger part is attributable to the uncertainty associated with the threat of disablement. We estimate that no more than 20 percent of mean assets accumulated before voluntary retirement are attributable to disability risks measured for any demographic group in our data. Compared to other reductions in expected utility of comparable amounts, such as a reduction in the replacement rate at voluntary retirement or increases in annual income fluctuations, disability risk generates substantially less pre-retirement saving. Because the probability of disablement is small and the average size of the loss %u2014 conditional on becoming disabled %u2014 is large, disability risk is not effectively insured through precautionary saving.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11605.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Publication status: published as Culter, David and David Wise (eds.) Health In Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability Among the Elderly. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11605
Note: HC LS PE AG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Darius Lakdawalla & Dana Goldman & Jay Bhattacharya, 2001. "Are the Young Becoming More Disabled?," NBER Working Papers 8247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-67, June.
  3. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
  4. 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.
  5. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  6. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise In The Disability Rolls And The Decline In Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-205, February.
  7. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  8. 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.
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