Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Groves keynote speaker at MIDAS symposium, Nov 15-16: "Big Data: Advancing Science, Changing the World"

Shaefer says drop child tax credit in favor of universal, direct investment in American children

Buchmueller breaks down partisan views on Obamacare

More News


Gonzalez, Alter, and Dinov win NSF "Big Data Spokes" award for neuroscience network

Post-doc Melanie Wasserman wins dissertation award from Upjohn Institute

ISR kicks off DE&I initiative with lunchtime presentation: Oct 13, noon, 1430 ISR Thompson

U-M ranked #4 in USN&WR's top public universities

More Highlights

Next Brown Bag

Mon, Oct 24 at noon:
Academic innovation & the global public research university, James Hilton

Upstream solutions: Does the supplemental security income program reduce disability in the elderly?

Publication Abstract

Herd, P., Robert F. Schoeni, and James S. House. 2008. "Upstream solutions: Does the supplemental security income program reduce disability in the elderly?" Milbank Quarterly, 86(1): 5-45.

Context: The robust relationship between socioeconomic factors and health suggests that social and economic policies might substantially affect health, while other evidence suggests that medical care, the main focus of current health policy, may not be the primary determinant of population health. Income support policies are one promising avenue to improve population health. This study examines whether the federal cash transfer program to poor elderly, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, affects old-age disability.

Methods: This study uses the 1990 and 2000 censuses, employing state and year fixed-effect models, to test whether within-state changes in maximum SSI benefits over time lead to changes in disability among people aged sixty-five and older.

Findings: Higher benefits are linked to lower disability rates. Among all single elderly individuals, 30 percent have mobility limitations, and an increase of $100 per month in the maximum SSI benefit caused the rate of mobility limitations to fall by 0.46 percentage points. The findings were robust to sensitivity analyses. First, analyses limited to those most likely to receive SSI produced larger effects, but analyses limited to those least likely to receive SSI produced no measurable effect. Second, varying the disability measure did not meaningfully alter the findings. Third, excluding the institutionalized, immigrants, individuals living in states with exceptionally large benefit changes, and individuals living in states with no SSI supplements did not change the substantive conclusions. Fourth, Medicaid did not confound the effects. Finally, these results were robust for married individuals.

Conclusions: Income support policy may be a significant new lever for improving population health, especially that of lower-income persons. Even though the findings are robust, further analyses are needed to confirm their reliability. Future research should examine a variety of different income support policies, as well as whether a broader range of social and economic policies affect health.

DOI:10.1111/j.1468-0009.2007.00512.x (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next