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Different people may have different thresholds for the extent to which health problems limit the kind and amount of work they can do. The thresholds may be related to the kind of work one does currently, demographics, work history. In this paper the authors look at a different determinant of self-reported disability, namely social influence. Using data on self-reports of work disability, work disability vignettes, and self-reports on disability in one’s reference group they estimate a model describing the influence of work disability prevalence in one’s reference group on the subjective scale used to report own work disability. It appears that these reference group effects exert a significant influence, thereby suggesting a significant role for social influences (and perhaps social norms) on the perception of work limitations.

This research was funded by the National Institute of Aging performed under the auspices of RAND Labor and Population.

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