Early Determinants of Work Disability in an International Perspective
32 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2018 Last revised: 13 Mar 2023
Date Written: October 2018
This paper studies the interrelated roles of health and welfare state policies in the decision to take up disability insurance (DI) benefits due to work disability (WD), defined as the (partial) inability to engage in gainful employment due to physical or mental illness. We exploit the large international variation of health, self-reported WD and the uptake of DI benefits in the US and Europe using a harmonized data set with life history information assembled from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ELSA) and the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Particular attention is given to the role of life-time health and other life-time experiences in explaining WD and DI uptake later in life. We find that while our large set of health measures explains a substantial share of the within-country variation in WD and DI, this is not the case for the variation across countries. Rather, most of the variation between countries is explained by differences in DI policies.
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