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Accounting for Worker Well-Being

ISBN: 978-0-76231-110-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-273-3

Publication date: 14 July 2004


Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) matched to administrative records, we examine mortality risk and participation in the Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs from a long-term perspective. Over a period of 14 years, we analyze the effect of self-reported health and disability on the probability of death and disability program entry among individuals aged 18–48 in 1984. We also assess DI and SSI programs from a life-cycle perspective. Self-reported poor health and severe disability at baseline are strongly correlated with death over the 14-year follow-up period. These variables also are strong predictors of disability program participation over the follow-up period among non-participants at baseline or before, with increasing marginal probabilities in the out-years. Our cross-sectional models are consistent with recent studies that find that the work-prevented measure is useful in modeling DI entry. However, once self-reported health and functional limitations are accounted for, the longitudinal entry models provide conflicting DI results for the work-prevented measure, suggesting that, contrary to claims based on cross-sectional or short-time horizon application models, the work-prevented measure is an unreliable indicator of severity. The risk of SSI and DI participation is significantly greater for individuals who die, suggesting that future mortality captures the effect of case severity and deterioration of health during the follow-up period. From a life-cycle perspective, a substantially greater proportion of individuals participate in SSI or DI at some point in their lives compared to typical cross-sectional estimates of participation, especially among minorities, people with less than a high school education, and those with early onset of poor health and/or disabilities. Cross-sectional estimates for the Social Security area population indicate SSI and DI participation rates of no more than 5% combined in 2000. In contrast, for individuals aged 43–48 in 1984, we observe a cumulative lifetime SSI and/or DI participation rate of 14%. The corresponding figure is 32% for individuals in that age group who did not graduate from high school, suggesting the need for human capital investments and/or improved work incentives.


Rupp, K. and Davies, P.S. (2004), "A LONG-TERM VIEW OF HEALTH STATUS, DISABILITIES, MORTALITY, AND PARTICIPATION IN THE DI AND SSI DISABILITY PROGRAMS", Polachek, S.W. (Ed.) Accounting for Worker Well-Being (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 119-183.



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