Econometrics Public Health Public Policy

Are you really disabled?

When the government extends benefits to individuals with specific characteristics (e.g., poverty, disability), the number of people who claim to have these characteristics will necessarily increase.  For instance, there are reports that unemployed individuals who no longer qualify for welfare are now moving onto the disability rolls in large numbers.  Are these people really disabled?

A recent study  by Gosling A., and Saloniki (2014) uses an approach developed by Bollinger (1996) to estimate the measurement error of disability rates in England.  The authors find that:

…a significant number of those with a disability fail to be recorded as such in the British Household Panel Survey. In addition, the probability of a false positive is estimated as being very close to zero in all socio-demographic groups. There is a strong bias in estimates of differences in rates of disability across groups but only a small effect on estimates of the difference in employment rates by disability status.

Like the US, the UK has a disability program known as the Personal Independence Payment. Thus, this study may indicate that most people who claim disability are “deserving” after all.



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