Income Security Policy Paper No. 4

How People with Disabilities Fare: When Public Policies Change-Past Present, and Future

Richard V. Burkhauser, Robert H. Haveman, and Barbara L. Wolfe

March 1992 


Abstract:  This paper analyzes the effects of two decades of federal disability policy and macroeconomic fluctuation on the well-being of men with disabilities. It finds that both have dramatically affected the economic well-being of people with disabilities both absolutely and relative to people without disabilities. Using data from the Current Population Survey (1968-1988) it finds that by 1987 the households of white or well-educated male heads with disabilities had fully recovered from the program cuts and recession of the early 1980s. However, to a large extent this recovery was due to additional earnings by spouses.

Alternatively, the households of the doubly disadvantaged-nonwhite or poorly educated males with disabilities-did not recover from their recession depths. It concludes that the new mandates on business aimed at integrating people with disabilities into society are not likely to help the doubly handicapped and that improvements in their well-being will likely depend on more generous income transfers or increased earning of those with whom they live.


A revised version of this paper appears as "How People with Disabilities Fare When Public Policies Change," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 12(2)(Spring 1993): 429-433. Those interested in this work should see that journal.