Dec 6, 2014

Do Jobs With Higher "Cognitive Analytic" Skills Have Higher Rates Of Disability?

     The abstract of a study by Lauren Hersch Nicholas for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College:
We use Health and Retirement Study data linked to the Department of Labor’s O*Net classification system to examine the relationship between lifetime exposure to occupational demands and retirement behavior. We consistently found that both non-routine cognitive analytic and non-routine physical demands were associated with worse health, earlier labor force exit, and increased use of Social Security Disability Insurance. The growing share of workers in jobs with high levels of cognitive demand may contribute to growth in DI use.
     It's obvious at ground level that people who work at jobs that have higher physical demands have higher rates of disability. It only stands to reason. However, increased rates of disability for those in jobs requiring the use of higher "cognitive analytic" skills comes as a surprise. I'm generally skeptical of government funded research that ends up calling for more government funded research. This report actually doesn't make that recommendation but this is a topic worthy of more research.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can throw you one theory that might account for part of that finding. The author defines
Non-Routine Cognitive Analytical as "analyze data, creative thinking, interpreting information."

Such jobs require a high degree of mental ability and performance. As a result, it's easier to prove that a disability prevents you from doing them. Even mild to moderate mental limitations might seriously impact ability to perform such jobs, and many common physical and mental disabilities produce such (for example, a pain producing condition for which a person takes strong medication).

If you're talking about people over 50 years old, and they cannot do their past work, then the medical vocational rules come into play making it arguably easier to prove the claim. Those factors could easily account for modest bump in the percentage of successful disability claims in the "Non-Routine Cognitive Analytical" group. There may be more to it, of course, but I would guess that is a factor.