Disability and Employment: Reevaluating the Evidence in Light of Reporting Errors

No Thumbnail Available
Pepper, John
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Kreider, Brent
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

Dates of Existence

Historical Names

  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of

Measurement error in health and disability status has been widely accepted as a central problem in social science research. Long-standing debates about the prevalence of disability, the role of health in labor market outcomes, and the influence of federal disability policy on declining employment rates have all emphasized issues regarding the reliability of self-reported disability. In addition to random error, inaccuracy in survey datasets may be produced by a host of economic, social, and psychological factors that can lead respondents to misreport work capacity. We develop a nonparametric foundation for assessing how assumptions on the reporting error process affect inferences on the employment gap between the disabled and nondisabled. Rather than imposing the strong assumptions required to obtain point identification, we derive sets of bounds that formalize the identifying power of primitive nonparametric assumptions that appear to share broad consensus in the literature. Within this framework, we introduce a finite-sample correction for the analog estimator of the monotone instrumental variable (MIV) bound. Our empirical results suggest that conclusions derived from conventional latent variable reporting error models may be driven largely by ad hoc distributional and functional form restrictions. We also find that under relatively weak nonparametric assumptions, nonworkers appear to systematically overreport disability.


This is a workiing paper of an article from Journal of the American Statistical Association 102, no. 478 (2007): 432-441. doi: 10.1198/016214506000000997.