The Long Reach of Education: Health, Wealth, and DI Participation

James M. Poterba, Steven F. Venti, David A. Wise

NBER Working Paper No. 23307
Issued in April 2017
NBER Program(s):Aging, Public Economics

Education is strongly related to participation in the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program. To explore this relationship, we describe the correlation between education and DI participation, and then explore how four factors related to education – health, wealth, occupation, and employment – feature in this correlation. We label these four factors “pathway” variables. We find that a large component of the relationship between education and DI participation – more than one-third for men, and over two-thirds for women – can be attributed to the correlation of education with health, and of health with DI receipt. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study for the 1992-2012 period to explore the corresponding roles for each of the pathway variables, and also to study how changes over time in these variables, such as the widening gap between the health status of those with high and low educational attainment, have affected DI participation.

download in pdf format
   (1207 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23307

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Haltiwanger, Jarmin, Kulick, and Miranda High Growth Young Firms: Contribution to Job, Output, and Productivity Growth
Heutel, Miller, and Molitor w23271 Adaptation and the Mortality Effects of Temperature Across U.S. Climate Regions
Acemoglu and Restrepo w23285 Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets
Dave, Feng, and Pesko w23313 The Effects of E-Cigarette Minimum Legal Sale Age Laws on Youth Substance Use
Rosen, Ghosh, Shelton Pape, Coca Perraillon, Bondarenko, Messer, Raghunathan, Stewart, and Cutler w23290 Strengthening National Data to Better Measure What We Are Buying in Health Care: Reconciling National Health Expenditures with Detailed Survey Data
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us