“For people with disabilities, does attaining educational success equal to that of their non-disabled peers ensure opportunities for financial independence and success? The existing disability literature compares earnings and income between people with disabilities and those without, examines employment rates among people with different types of disabilities, and identifies labor market outcomes for specific populations with disabilities (e.g., male heads of households and post-high school young adults). However, the current research does not describe the income difference between people with disabilities and their non-disabled counterparts in full-time employment by educational level. Nor does it describe the subsequent economic impact on individuals, states, or the nation. To address this gap in research, our study focuses on two pertinent questions: 1) Do earnings differ between these two groups after accounting for educational attainment and workforce participation? 2) If so, how great is that discrepancy and what is its economic impact?” (p.1).
Major Findings & Recommendations
“What we found is alarming. Despite educational attainment, earnings inequalities certainly exist between the two groups, and surprisingly the gap actually widens as educational attainment increases. In fact,”(p.1) • The greatest earnings inequalities occur among those with a master’s degrees or higher”(p.1). • The U.S. economy would have received an additional $141 billion in 2011—roughly 1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) if people with disabilities were paid comparably as those without”(p.1). • The earnings difference from people with disabilities would have translated into another$25 billion in federal taxes and $6.5 billion in state taxes”(p.1). “What factors account for this widespread disparity? Are people with disabilities trapped in low-paying positions because employers do not promote them? Are people with disabilities accepting lower wage jobs that offer better benefit packages, including health care and other supports? More research is needed to examine the demographics of people with disabilities in employment, their employment settings and types of employers, the effects of years worked on their wages, and the impact of full-time versus part-time status” (p.5). (Abstractor: Author)