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Work Disability, Work, and Justification Bias in Europe and the U.S

  • Arie Kapteyn

    (RAND)

  • James P. Smith

    (RAND)

  • Arthur van Soest

    (Tilburg University, Netspar & RAND)

To analyze the effect of health on work, many studies use a simple self-assessed health measure based upon a question such as “do you have an impairment or health problem limiting the kind or amount of work you can do?” A possible drawback of such a measure is the possibility that different groups of respondents may use different response scales. This is commonly referred to as “differential item functioning” (DIF). A specific form of DIF is justification bias: to justify the fact that they don’t work, non-working respondents may classify a given health problem as a more serious work limitation than working respondents. In this paper we use anchoring vignettes to identify justification bias and other forms of DIF across countries and socio-economic groups among older workers in the U.S. and Europe. Generally, we find differences in response scales across countries, partly related to social insurance generosity and employment protection. Furthermore, we find significant evidence of justification bias in the U.S. but not in Europe, suggesting differences in social norms concerning work.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp200946.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200946.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 16 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200946
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  1. van Soest, Arthur & Delaney, Liam & Harmon, Colm P. & Kapteyn, Arie & Smith, James P., 2007. "Validating the Use of Vignettes for Subjective Threshold Scales," IZA Discussion Papers 2860, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Böckerman, Petri & Ilmakunnas, Pekka, 2007. "Unemployment and self-assessed health: Evidence from panel data," MPRA Paper 1798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Self-reported Work Disability in the US and The Netherlands," Working Papers 206, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  4. Kreider, Brent & Pepper, John V., 2007. "Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 432-441, June.
  5. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest, 2007. "Vignettes and Self-Reports of Work Disability in the United States and the Netherlands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 461-473, March.
  6. Arie Kapteyn & James P. Smith & Arthur van Soest & James Banks, 2010. "Labor Market Status and Transitions during the Pre-Retirement Years: Learning from International Differences," NBER Chapters, in: Research Findings in the Economics of Aging, pages 63-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
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