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Keywords:Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 

Working Paper
The employment of working-age people with disabilities in the 1980s and 1990s: what current data can and cannot tell us
A new and highly controversial literature argues that the employment of working-age people with disabilities fell dramatically relative to the rest of the working-age population in the 1990s. Some dismiss these results as fundamentally flawed because they come from a self-reported work limitation-based disability population that captures neither the actual population with disabilities nor its employment trends. In this paper, we examine the merits of these criticisms. We first consider some of the difficulties of defining and consistently measuring the population with disabilities. We then discuss how these measurement difficulties potentially bias empirical estimates of the prevalence of disability and of the employment behavior of those with disabilities. Having provided a context for our analysis, we use data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to compare the prevalence and employment rates across two empirical populations of those with disabilities: one defined by self-reported impairments and one defined by self-reported work limitations. We find that although traditional work limitation-based definitions underestimate the size of the broader population with health impairments, the employment trends in the populations defined by work limitations and impairments are not significantly different from one another over the 1980s and 1990s. We then show that the trends in employment observed for the NHIS population defined by self-reported work limitations are statistically similar to those found in the Current Population Survey (CPS). Based on this analysis, we argue that nationally representative employment-based data sets like the CPS can be used to monitor the employment trends of those with disabilities over the past two decades.
AUTHORS: Nargis, Nigar; Daly, Mary C.; Houtenville, Andrew J.; Burkhauser, Richard V.
DATE: 2001

Working Paper
Left behind: SSI in the era of welfare reform
SSI was established in 1972, born out of a compromise at the time between those wanting to provide a guaranteed income floor and those wishing to limit it to individuals not expected to work: the aged, blind, and disabled. SSI is now the largest federal means-tested program in the United States, serving a population dominated by low-income adults and children with disabilities. With other forms of federal support devolving to state programs (e.g., welfare), policymakers pressing to redefine social expectations about who should and should not work, and the Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteeing people with disabilities the right to employment, the goals and design of SSI have come under scrutiny. In this article we review the role that SSI has played to this point and consider the directions SSI might take in a work-dominated welfare environment where people with disabilities increasingly wish to be included in the labor market.
AUTHORS: Daly, Mary C.; Burkhauser, Richard V.
DATE: 2003

Working Paper
Self-reported work limitation data: what they can and cannot tell us
Data constraints make the long-term monitoring of the working-age population with disabilities a difficult task. Indeed, the Current Population Survey (CPS) is the only national data source that offers detailed work and income questions and consistently asked measures of disability over a 20-year period. Despite its widespread use in the literature, the CPS and surveys like it have come under attack of late, with critics discounting the results of any research obtained from such data. We put these criticisms in perspective by systematically examining what the CPS data can and cannot be used for in disability research. Based on comparisons with the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), a data set with much more information on health than the CPS, we find that the work limitation-based definition of disability available in the CPS underestimates the size of the broader population with health impairments in the NHIS, but that the employment trends in these two populations in the NHIS are not significantly different from one another. We then show that the trends in employment observed for the NHIS population defined by self-reported work limitation are not statistically different from those found in the CPS. Based on these findings, we argue (1) that the CPS and other nationally representative employment-based data sets can be used to monitor trends in outcomes of those with disabilities and, (2) that the dramatic decline in the employment of people with disabilities we describe in the CPS during the 1990s is not an artifact of the data.
AUTHORS: Burkhauser, Richard V.; Nargis, Nigar; Houtenville, Andrew J.; Daly, Mary C.
DATE: 2002

Working Paper
United States disability policy in a changing environment
Two factors are likely to cause the debate surrounding disability policy to intensify over the next decade. First, the protracted period of economic growth that the United States has experienced since 1992 cannot last forever. And, applications for DI and SSI are sensitive to the business cycle. A downturn in the economy will increase applications and heighten efforts to broaden the categorical definition of disability. This is even more likely since the welfare reforms of 1996 have made it more difficult for low-income people to be eligible for other programs. Second, the percentage of the population aged 50 and over is increasing. Given that the prevalence of disability rises sharply at these ages, applications for both DI and SSI are likely to rise. The effect of this demographic change is magnified by the fact that in 2000 the age of eligibility for full Social Security retirement benefits began to rise from 65 to 67. This increase in the normal retirement age will increase the relative value of DI and SSI benefits for workers considering exiting the labor market prior to age 67. All these factors suggest another major round of debate over disability policy and program expansion in the near future.
AUTHORS: Daly, Mary C.; Burkhauser, Richard V.
DATE: 2001

Journal Article
Disability and work: the experiences of American and German men
This paper compares the economic well-being of men with disabilities in the United States and Germany. The results indicate that while the prevalence of disability is similar, the social institutions developed in the two countries result in quite different patterns of employment, transfer receipt, and economic well-being among the population with disabilities. However, while work is more important among German men with disabilities, it also is a very important component of the economic well-being of American men with disabilities. Furthermore, at least initially, a significant fraction of men are able to adjust to their disability and maintain their work status and income.
AUTHORS: Daly, Mary C.; Burkhauser, Richard V.
DATE: 1998



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