Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Sevak, P., Houtenville, A.J., Brucker, D.L., & O'Neill, J. (2015). Individual characteristics and the disability employment gap. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 1-9.
Title:  Individual characteristics and the disability employment gap
Authors:  Sevak, P., Houtenville, A.J., Brucker, D.L., & O'Neill, J.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Disability Policy Studies
Publisher:  Hammill Institute on Disabilities
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  Despite legislation and technological advances, overall, individuals with disabilities have lower employment rates than individuals without disabilities. Although, a gap exists there are some individuals with disabilities who are successfully employed. It is important to understand what factors or characteristics are associated with those who fare well. This information can help inform policy development and identify effective program delivery and service interventions.
Purpose:  The goal of the study was to learn more about characteristics associated with individuals with disabilities who are successfully employed. The hypothesis was the disability employment gap varies with personal characteristics.
Study sample:  Data was extracted from the 2009 to 2011 American Community Survey. Individuals with disabilities who were working age, 25 to 64 years old were included. People with disabilities who resided with others with disabilities were excluded.
Intervention:  There was no intervention.
Data collection and analysis:  The American Community Survey included questions related to functional and activity limitations. People who respond yes to one or more of six questions were identified as having a disability. First, the researchers calculated descriptive statistics for the sample, and then they calculated the disability employment gap. The disability employment gap was the difference in the employment rate for people with and without disabilities by each personal characteristic group. Next, they estimated a series of linear regressions of a multivariable model. Strata 13 and sample weights from the Census Bureau were used to calculate weights. Chow tests were also applied.
Findings:  The employment rate was lower for people with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Gender composition was the same, but there were differences in the two groups across all other personal characteristics (age distribution and racial and ethnic make up). People with disabilities make up an older group. Within the group a higher percentage are black and a lower percentage are Asian or Hispanic. The marital status, being married, was associated with positive outcomes. Also, the employment gap decreased when people with disabilities attained more education.
Conclusions:  The results were mostly consistent with the hypothesis. It appears that the disability gap varies based on individual characteristics. In order to improve employment outcomes, more research is needed to understand the reasons for these gaps and investigate ways to close them.

Disabilities served:  Blindness
Cerebral palsy
Cerebral vascular accident (stroke)
Cognitive decline / dementia
Cognitive / intellectual impairment
Developmental disabilities
Down syndrome
Dual sensory impairment
Hearing impairment
Learning disabilities
Mobility impairment
Multiple sclerosis
Muscular dystrophy
Orthopedic impairments
Spinal cord injury (SCI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
Visual impairment
Severe physical disability
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Race: Asian
Race: Black / African American
Race: White / Caucasian
Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latino