Great Recession and disability insurance in Spain

Authors: Sergi Jiménez-Martín, Arnau Juanmarti Mestres and Judit Vall-Castello

Empirical Economics, 1-23, January, 2018

In this paper, we explore the relationship between economic conditions and disability insurance (DI) participation in Spain during the Great Recession. Using individual-level longitudinal data, we show that DI awards are procyclical, contrary to the countercyclical behavior found in most of the previous literature. We show that DI applications are not responsive to the business cycle and that economic conditions have no effect on the composition of new DI awardees, suggesting that DI participation in Spain is not driven by partially disabled individuals resorting to the DI program as a result of bad labor market conditions. Furthermore, we argue that the procyclical behavior of DI awards may be driven by an informal increase in screening stringency and by an improvement in the health status of the population as a result of worse economic conditions.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona GSE Working Paper 896