Essays on wealth, health, and data collection

One of the aims of social insurance programs is to provide a financial safety net to households when encountering adverse circumstances. However, apart from offering mere protection, a system of social insurance can also be designed with the aim to increase overall welfare. In order to make the appropriate design decisions one needs to understand how individuals react to both negative shocks, such as health and wealth shocks, and the system put in place to protect them from these shocks. For example, in order to determine appropriate levels of contributions and benefits in social insurance contracts, one needs to understand how individuals prefer to move resources between different potential life outcomes and how consumption patterns are affected by negative shocks such as illness. Moreover, one needs to understand which (negative) behavior can be provoked by income protection and how such moral hazard can be counteracted by complementary efforts to income support. To gain understanding on such behavioral effects, access to high quality microdata is crucial. Innovations in data collection methods are thus key to a better understanding of the workings of social insurance systems.
This thesis contains four essays. The first two essays are aimed at gaining a better understanding of optimal levels of old-age income protec-tion, by first providing insight in how individuals spread negative wealth shocks over the life course and second estimating how consumption patterns are affected by health declines. The third essay aims to measure the effects of a complementary intervention to sickness benefits, aimed to avoid unnecessary inflow into disability insurance leading up to long-term income losses. The fourth essay evaluates alternative survey data collection methods, aimed at generating high quality individual-level data for countries that do not have an up-to-date Personal Records Database to sample from. The essays can be read independently and all contain an extensive introduction. This introductory chapter aims to summarize the motivations, research questions, and outcomes of the four essays.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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