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Financial Incentives and Earnings of Disability Insurance Recipients: Evidence from a Notch Design

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  • Philippe Ruh
  • Stefan Staubli

Abstract

Most countries reduce Disability Insurance (DI) benefits for beneficiaries earning above a specified threshold. Such an earnings threshold generates a discontinuous increase in tax liability—a notch—and creates an incentive to keep earnings below the threshold. Exploiting such a notch in Austria, we provide transparent and credible identification of the effect of financial incentives on DI beneficiaries’ earnings. Using rich administrative data, we document large and sharp bunching at the earnings threshold. However, the elasticity driving these responses is small. Our estimate suggests that relaxing the earnings threshold reduces fiscal cost only if program entry is very inelastic.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Ruh & Stefan Staubli, 2018. "Financial Incentives and Earnings of Disability Insurance Recipients: Evidence from a Notch Design," NBER Working Papers 24830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24830
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mullen, Kathleen J. & Staubli, Stefan, 2016. "Disability benefit generosity and labor force withdrawal," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 49-63.
    2. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Tore Olsen & Luigi Pistaferri, 2011. "Adjustment Costs, Firm Responses, and Micro vs. Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: Evidence from Danish Tax Records," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 749-804.
    3. Monika Bütler & Eva Deuchert & Michael Lechner & Stefan Staubli & Petra Thiemann, 2015. "Financial work incentives for disability benefit recipients: lessons from a randomised field experiment," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-18, December.
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    11. Campolieti, Michele & Riddell, Chris, 2012. "Disability policy and the labor market: Evidence from a natural experiment in Canada, 1998–2006," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 306-316.
    12. Tazhitdinova, Alisa, 2015. "Adjust Me if I Can’t: The Effect of Firm Incentives on Labor Supply Responses to Taxes," MPRA Paper 81611, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2017.
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    16. Andreas Ravndal Kostol & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "How Financial Incentives Induce Disability Insurance Recipients to Return to Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 624-655, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Haller & Stefan Staubli & Josef Zweimüller, 2020. "Designing Disability Insurance Reforms: Tightening Eligibility Rules or Reducing Benefits," NBER Working Papers 27602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Deuchert, Eva & Eugster, Beatrix, 2019. "Income and substitution effects of a disability insurance reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 1-14.
    3. Chiara Dal Bianco, 2019. "Labour Supply and Welfare Effects of Disability Insurance: A Survey," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 5(1), pages 161-189, March.
    4. Alexander Gelber & Timothy J. Moore & Alexander Strand, 2017. "The Effect of Disability Insurance Payments on Beneficiaries' Earnings," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 229-261, August.
    5. Deuchert, E. & Eugster, B., 2016. "Crawling Up the Cash Cliff? Behavioral Responses to a Disability Insurance Reform," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 16/21, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    6. Tazhitdinova, Alisa, 2015. "Adjust Me if I Can’t: The Effect of Firm Incentives on Labor Supply Responses to Taxes," MPRA Paper 81611, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2017.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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