Early Interventions and Disability Insurance: Experience from a Field Experiment


  • The article has benefited from comments by seminar participants at SEW St. Gallen, SSB Oslo, the conference on Absenteeism and Social Insurance Utrecht University (September 2010), the workshop on applied policy evaluation in London (June 2012) and the workshop on field experiments in policy evaluation in Nuremberg (October 2012), as well as from Bruno Crépon, Eva Deuchert, Laura Hartman, Edwin Leuven, Mats Persson, Gerard van den Berg and Olof Åslund. Per Johansson acknowledges the financial support from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research FAS and the Swedish Social Insurance Administration.


We estimate the effects of early assessments of an individual's need for vocational rehabilitation in the Swedish sickness insurance system using a field experiment. One of the interventions increases the flow to disability benefits by 20%. The effect is larger for unemployed individuals, who also are covered by the sickness insurance scheme. This result is in line with a theoretical model with moral hazard and asymmetric information in which individuals with low work incentives communicate worse health in response to the assessment for rehabilitation which then increases the hazard to disability benefits.