Empirical Economics

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 411–434 | Cite as

Misreporting in register data on disability status: evidence from the Swedish Public Employment Service

  • Per Johansson
  • Per Skedinger
Original Paper


The issue considered in this study is whether there is misreporting in official data on disability status. While there is a rather large literature on misreporting of self-assessed disability, evidence regarding register data is scant. It seems to be a widely held view among researchers that, since individuals out of work are inclined to respond towards poor health, it would be best to have official data provided by the relevant administrative bodies. But we argue that such administrative data should be regarded with some suspicion, since the administrators also may have incentives to misreport. The empirical evidence, based on a large sample of Swedish jobseekers, suggests systematic misreporting by the Public Employment Service of official disability measures due to incentives to misreport disability.


Work disability Classification error Public Employment Service 

JEL Classification

I12 J28 J68 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aarts LJ, de Jong PR (1992) Economic aspects of disability behavior. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  2. Ams (1999) Handikappkunskap. Arbetsmarknadsverkets utbildningsmaterial 1999-06-01. National Labour Market Board, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker M, Stabile M, Deri C (2004) What do self-reported, objective, measures of health measure?. J Hum Resour 39: 1067–1093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benitez-Silva H, Chan H, Rust J, Sheidvasser S (1999) An empirical analysis of the Social Security disability application, appeal and award process. Labour Econ 6: 147–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benitez-Silva H, Buchinsky M, Rust J (2003) How large are the classification errors in the Social Security disability award process?. Working paper, University of Maryland, College ParkGoogle Scholar
  6. Benitez-Silva H, Buchinsky M, Chan HM, Cheidvasser S, Rust J (2004) How large is the bias in self-reported disability?. J Appl Econom 19: 649–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergeskog A (2001) Labour market policies, strategies and statistics for people with disabilities. A cross-national comparison. Working paper 2001:13, Office of Labour Market Policy Evaluation, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  8. Björklund A (1985) Unemployment and mental health: some evidence from panel data. J Hum Resour 20: 469–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bound J (1991) Self-reported versus objective measures of health in retirement models. J Hum Resour 26: 106–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bound J, Brown C, Mathiowetz N (2001) Measurement error in survey data. In: Heckman JJ, Leamer E (eds) Handbook of econometrics, vol 5. Handbooks in economics 2. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 3705–3843Google Scholar
  11. Cullen JB (2003) The impact of fiscal incentives on student disability rates. J Public Econ 87: 1557– 1589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. de Jong P, Lindeboom M (2004) Privatization of sickness insurance: evidence from the Netherlands. Swed Econ Policy Rev 11: 121–143Google Scholar
  13. Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour (2003) Economic Report. Bridges to the Labor Market, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  14. Fitzenberger B, Osikominu A, Völter R (2006) Imputation rules to improve the education variable in the IAB employment subsample. Schmollers Jahrb Z Wirtsch- und Sozialwiss/J Appl Soc Sci Stud 126: 405–436Google Scholar
  15. Gerdtham U-G, Johannesson M (2003) A note on the effect of unemployment on mortality. J Health Econ 22: 505–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gruber J, Kubik JD (1997) Disability insurance rejection rates and the labor supply of older workers. J Public Econ 64: 1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haavisto T, Höjgård S, Vlachos V (1993) Arbete åt arbetshandikappade. En samhällsekonomisk utvärdering av Samhall. Reports from Växjö University, Ser. 1 Economy and Politics 36Google Scholar
  18. Hamilton VH, Merrigan P, Dufresne E (1997) Down and out: estimating the relationship between mental health and unemployment. Health Econ 6: 397–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hastie TJ, Tibshirani RJ (1990) Generalized additive models. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Haveman RH, Halberstadt V, Burkhauser RV (eds) (1984) Public policy toward disabled workers. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  21. Heckman JJ, Lalonde RJ, Smith JA (1999) The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs. In: Ashenfelter O, Card D (eds) Handbook of labor economics, vol 3 A. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 1865–2097Google Scholar
  22. Johansson P, Palme M (2005) Moral hazard and sickness insurance. J Public Econ 89: 1879–1890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Johansson P, Skedinger P (2005) Are objective, official measures of disability reliable? Working paper 2005:14, Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
  24. Kapteyn A, Ypma JY (2007) Measurement error and misclassification. A comparison of survey and register data. J Labor Econ 25: 513–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kerkhofs M, Lindeboom M (1995) Age related health dynamics and changes in labour market status. Health Econ 6: 407–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kerkhofs M, Lindeboom M, Theeuwes J (1999) Retirement, financial incentives and health. Labour Econ 6: 203–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kreider B (1999) Latent work disability and reporting bias. J Hum Resour 34: 734–769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kreider B, Pepper JV (2007) Disability and employment: reevaluating the evidence in light of reporting errors. J Am Stat Assoc 102: 432–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kreider B, Pepper J (2008) Inferring disability from corrupt data. J Appl Econom 23: 329–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Larsson L (2004) Harmonizing unemployment and sickness insurance: Why(not)?. Swed Econ Policy Rev 11: 121–143Google Scholar
  31. Lindeboom M, Kerkhofs M (2003) Health and the work of the elderly. Working paper, Free University of AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  32. Neyman J (1990) On the application of probability theory to agricultural experiments. Essay on principles. Stat Sci 5: 465–472Google Scholar
  33. Nyberg S, Skedinger P (1998) Arbetsförmedlingarna–mål och drivkrafter. Ds 1998:16. Expertgruppen för studier i offentlig ekonomi, Ministry of Finance, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  34. Rubin DB (1973a) Matching to remove bias in observational studies. Biometrics 29: 159–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rubin DB (1973b) The use of matched sampling and regression adjustments to remove bias in observational studies. Biometrics 29: 185–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ruhm CJ (2000) Are recessions good for your health?. Q J Econ 115: 617–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ruhm CJ (2003) Good times make you sick. J Health Econ 22: 637–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Skedinger P, Widerstedt B (2007) Cream skimming in employment programmes for the disabled? Evidence from Sweden. Int J Manpow 28: 694–714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. SOU (2003:95) Arbetskraft. Ministry for Industry, Employment and Communication, StockholmGoogle Scholar
  40. Zetterberg J (1997) Halverad öppen arbetslöshet–politisk retorik eller adekvat målformulering? In: Tretton inlägg om arbetslöshet, AER-rapport 2, StockholmGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation (IFAU)UppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)StockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations