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The Welfare Implications of Increasing Disability Insurance Benefit Generosity

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Abstract

The focus on efficiency costs in the empirical literature on Disability Insurance (DI) provides a misleading view of the adequacy of payment levels. In order to evaluate whether workers are over- or under-insured through the social insurance program, we develop a framework that allows us to simulate the benefits as well as the costs associated with marginal changes in payment generosity from a representative cross-sectional sample of the population. Under the assumption that individuals are reasonably risk averse, our simulations suggest the typical worker would value increased benefits somewhat above the average costs of providing them. However, we find that benefit increases tend to lower average utility when we average across all individuals in our sample, particularly at high levels of risk aversion. This counterintuitive finding arises because some lower income DI-insured workers face replacement rates that are near or above one. For such individuals, a benefit increase would represent transfers from an even lower income state of the world in which they are not on DI to one in which they are, a transfer that would not be beneficial even if there were no behavioral distortions associated with the provision of DI benefits.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2002-02
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    Cited by:

    1. Mari Rege & Kjetil Telle & Mark Votruba, 2012. "Social Interaction Effects in Disability Pension Participation: Evidence from Plant Downsizing," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1208-1239, December.
    2. Hamish Low & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Disability Risk, Disability Insurance and Life Cycle Behavior," NBER Working Papers 15962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Bruce Meyer & Wallace K. C. Mok, 2016. "Disability, Earnings, Income and Consumption," NBER Chapters,in: Social Insurance Programs (Trans-Atlantic Public Economic Seminar - TAPES) National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nathaniel Hendren, 2013. "Private Information and Insurance Rejections," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(5), pages 1713-1762, September.
    5. Marie, Olivier & Vall Castello, Judit, 2012. "Measuring the (income) effect of disability insurance generosity on labour market participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 198-210.
    6. 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 1432-1467, September.
    7. Mullen, Kathleen J. & Staubli, Stefan, 2016. "Disability benefit generosity and labor force withdrawal," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 49-63.
    8. De Laat, Joost & Sevilla-Sanz, Almudena, 2006. "Working women, men's home time and lowest-low fertility," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    9. Amitabh Chandra & Andrew A. Samwick, 2009. "Disability Risk and the Value of Disability Insurance," NBER Chapters,in: Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly, pages 295-336 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Raj Chetty & Amy Finkelstein, 2012. "Social Insurance: Connecting Theory to Data," NBER Working Papers 18433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Hamish Low & Luigi Pistaferri, 2015. "Disability Insurance and the Dynamics of the Incentive Insurance Trade-Off," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 2986-3029, October.
    12. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2003. "Designing optimal disability insurance," Working Papers 628, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    13. repec:hrv:faseco:34330197 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Merkuryeva Irina, 2007. "The system of disability benefits in Russia. Estimation of targeting accuracy," EERC Working Paper Series 07-04e, EERC Research Network, Russia and CIS.
    15. McClellan, Mark & Skinner, Jonathan, 2006. "The incidence of Medicare," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 257-276, January.
    16. Mark Duggan & Perry Singleton & Jae Song, 2005. "Aching to Retire? The Rise in the Full Retirement Age and its Impact on the Disability Rolls," NBER Working Papers 11811, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Laura Turner & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2011. "Social Security, Endogenous Retirement, and Intrahousehold Cooperation," 2011 Meeting Papers 935, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H22 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Incidence
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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