Obesity, Disability, and Movement Onto the Disability Insurance Rolls

29 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2008

See all articles by Richard V. Burkhauser

Richard V. Burkhauser

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

Date Written: October 1, 2004

Abstract

Between the early 1980s and 2002, both the prevalence of obesity and the number of beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability Insurance program doubled. We test whether these trends are related; specifically, we test whether obesity causes disability and movement onto the disability rolls.

We estimate models of instrumental variables using two nationally representative data sets: the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 Cohort. The results are mixed but we find evidence that weight increases the probability of health-related work limitations and the probability of receiving disability-related income. Our results suggest that the failure to treat obesity as endogenous leads to dramatic underestimates of the link between obesity and disability outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Burkhauser, Richard V. and Cawley, John, Obesity, Disability, and Movement Onto the Disability Insurance Rolls (October 1, 2004). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. WP 2004-089, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1092983 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1092983

Richard V. Burkhauser (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

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University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute ( email )

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John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

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Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

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National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics ( email )

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NBER

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United States

IZA ( email )

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