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Political Science Social Services & Welfare

Disability Insurance and Public Policy

by (author) Samuel A. Rea

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1989
Social Services & Welfare, Social Security, Health
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1989
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Without some form of outside assistance, physical disability is very likely to create economic hardship for victims of accident or illness. Existing programs that provide income to the disabled, including Workmen's Compensation, retirement pension programs, private insurance, public assistance, and compensation under tort law, have been severely criticized as either too generous or inadequate. However, there has been no strictly economic analysis of the system of disability compensation.


This study attempts to fill that void, using economic theory to examine the functioning of the insurance market and the relationship between insurance and precautions against disability. A critical review of the arguments for government intervention in this market reveals that the case for mandatory insurance coverage is weak. Rea's analysis also provides a framework for designing an insurance benefit structure and offers insights into the relative merits of lump-sum and periodic benefits, the design of insurance benefits in an inflationary environment, and the taxation of disability benefits.


The 'no-fault' approach is assessed using the example of automobile insurance and in light of many possible changes in the existing system, such as mandatory disability insurance, strict liability of drivers for accidents to passengers and pedestrians, and periodic rather than lump-sum benefits.


This study will be of interest to economists, lawyers, members of the insurance industry, and those concerned with public policy on disability.

About the author

SAMUEL A. REA jr is a member of the Department of Economics and a research associate of the Institute for Policy Analysis at the University of Toronto.

Samuel A. Rea's profile page