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Disability Risk, Disability Insurance and Life Cycle Behavior

  • Hamish Low
  • Luigi Pistaferri

This paper provides a life-cycle framework for weighing up the insurance value of disability benefits against the incentive cost. Within this framework, we estimate the life-cycle risks that individuals face in the US, as well as the parameters governing the disability insurance program, using indirect inference and longitudinal data on consumption, disability status, disability insurance receipt, and wages. We use our estimates to characterize the economic effects of disability programs and to consider how policy reforms would affect behaviour and standard measures of household welfare. Because of high levels of false rejections associated with the screening problem, average household welfare increases as the program becomes less strict, despite the worsening incentives that this implies. Incentives for false applications are reduced by reducing generosity and increasing reassessments and these policies also increase average household welfare, despite the worse insurance implied.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15962.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15962.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15962
Note: EFG LS PE
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  1. Mary Daly & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2003. "The Supplemental Security Income Program," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 79-140 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & John Rust, 2005. "How Large are the Classification Errors in the Social Security Disability Award Process?," Department of Economics Working Papers 05-02, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  7. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2005. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000450, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Hamish Low & Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Wage Risk and Employment Risk over the Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1432-67, September.
  11. Steven Stern, 1989. "Measuring the Effect of Disability on Labor Force Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 361-395.
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  13. Brent Kreider, 1999. "Latent Work Disability and Reporting Bias," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(4), pages 734-769.
  14. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2009. "Why do the Elderly Save? The Role of Medical Expenses," NBER Working Papers 15149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hugo Benítez-Silva & Moshe Buchinsky & Hiu Man Chan & Sofia Cheidvasser & John Rust, 2004. "How large is the bias in self-reported disability?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 649-670.
  16. Amy Finkelstein & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2008. "What Good Is Wealth Without Health? The Effect of Health on the Marginal Utility of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 14089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Timothy Waidman & John Bound & Austin Nichols, 2003. "Disability Benefits as Social Insurance: Tradeoffs Between Screening Stringency and Benefit Generosity in Optimal Program Design," Working Papers wp042, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  18. Jerome Adda & James Banks & Hans-Martin von Gaudecker, 2007. "The impact of income shocks on health: evidence from cohort data," IFS Working Papers W07/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Oliver Denk & Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2013. "Optimal Social Security with Imperfect Tagging," Working Papers hal-00796521, HAL.
  22. Dan Black & Kermit Daniel & Seth Sanders, 2002. "The Impact of Economic Conditions on Participation in Disability Programs: Evidence from the Coal Boom and Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 27-50, March.
  23. Diamond, Peter & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1995. "Economic aspects of optimal disability benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-23, May.
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