Work Disability, Work, and Justification Bias in Europe and the United States

Edited by Arie Kapteyn, James P. Smith and Arthur van Soest

in Explorations in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226903378
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903385 | DOI:
Work Disability, Work, and Justification Bias in Europe and the United States

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The chapter looks at response scale differences in self-reported health measurement across countries and socioeconomic groups. The chapter aims to apply an innovative data calibration methodology known as vignettes to interpret self-reported measures. As motivation for the study, the chapter notes the significant variation across Western European countries in both the fraction of workers receiving disability insurance benefits and, separately, the fraction that report having a work-limiting disability. The complication in trying to make meaningful comparisons across countries is that self-reported disability status (or self-reported health measurement of any kind) may not mean the same thing to different people in different circumstances in different places. The primary methodology used in the chapter is to apply anchoring vignettes. The basic idea behind vignettes is as a calibration tool. A vignette describes the health-related circumstances of a hypothetical individual, and asks the respondent to make an assessment of that person's work-limiting health status on a scale matching the scale used to self-report their own work-limiting health status.

Keywords: work disability; justification bias; disability insurance; Health and Retirement Study; vignette methodology; self-reported disability status

Chapter.  16034 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Economics

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