Self-reported work disability is analyzed in the US and The Netherlands. The raw data show that Dutch respondents much more often report that they have a work limiting health problem than respondents in the US. The difference remains when controlling for demographic characteristics and observed onsets of health problems. Respondent evaluations of work limitations of hypothetical persons described in vignettes are used to identify the extent to which the differences in self-reports between countries or socio-economic groups are due to systematic variation in the response scales. A model that assumes the same response scales for different health domains is compared with a model that allows for domain specific response scales. Results of both models suggest that about half of the difference between the self-reported rates of work disability in the US and The Netherlands can be explained by response scale differences.
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Lasker Foundation to the National Bureau for Economic Research, by a grant from the National Institute on Aging to RAND. The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Labor and Population.
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