, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 146-165,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 Aug 2010

Health, disability and work: patterns for the working age population


We examine the role of health as a determinant of labour force participation, paying particular attention to the link between the two provided by disability insurance schemes. We first review the evidence on associations between health and labour force participation. Enrolment in disability insurance is not determined by health alone, and we highlight the main other causes that the literature has identified. In an application to The Netherlands, we follow the structure of the literature review and show that the trends in health and disability insurance enrolment look rather positive. In particular, the 1990 reforms of disability insurance might have been more effective than previously realised because part of their success was hidden by demographic change: The large number of baby boomers kept the absolute inflow high as they aged, despite large reductions in relative rates.

This research was funded by Stichting Instituut GAK and Netspar. The authors would like to thank Amco Wiering for excellent research assistance and Philip de Jong, Rob Euwals, and Jan-Maarten van Sonsbeek for useful comments regarding the Dutch Disability Insurance system. Three anonymous referees and seminar and conference participants at the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), the Netspar Annual Conference “Rethinking Retirement”, and the October 2009 Netspar Panel—particularly our discussants Daniel van Vuuren, Katherine Carman, Wim Groot, Philip de Jong, Gijsbert van Lomwel, and Marc Koopmanschap—provided many comments that greatly helped to improve upon the paper.