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The Disability Discrimination Act in the UK: Helping or hindering employment among the disabled?


  • Bell, David
  • Heitmueller, Axel


The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 triggered a substantial academic debate about its consequences on employment rates of disabled people. In contrast, the employment provision of the 1996 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in Britain has received little attention. Exploiting both pooled and longitudinal data, this paper provides robust evidence that, similar to the ADA in the USA, the DDA has had no impact on the employment rate of disabled people or possibly worsened it. Possible reasons for this are higher uncertainty around litigation costs, low levels of general awareness about the Act among disabled people and employers, and a lack of financial support.

Suggested Citation

  • Bell, David & Heitmueller, Axel, 2009. "The Disability Discrimination Act in the UK: Helping or hindering employment among the disabled?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 465-480, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:465-480

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2006. "The Growth in the Social Security Disability Rolls: A Fiscal Crisis Unfolding," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 71-96, Summer.
    8. Paul Oyer & Scott Schaefer, 2000. "Layoffs and Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(2), pages 345-358, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baumberg, Ben & Jones, Melanie & Wass, Victoria, 2015. "Disability prevalence and disability-related employment gaps in the UK 1998–2012: Different trends in different surveys?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 72-81.
    2. Chen, Hao & Zhao, Chunming & Yu, Wence, 2017. "Continued export trade, screening-matching and gender discrimination in employment," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 88-100.
    3. Vall Castello, Judit, 2012. "Promoting employment of disabled women in Spain; Evaluating a policy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 82-91.
    4. Humer, Brigitte & Wuellrich, Jean-Philippe & Zweimüller, Josef, 2007. "Integrating Severely Disabled Individuals into the Labour Market: The Austrian Case," IZA Discussion Papers 2649, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Marie, Olivier & Vall Castello, Judit, 2012. "Measuring the (income) effect of disability insurance generosity on labour market participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 198-210.
    6. Braakmann, Nils, 2008. "Wirkungen der Beschäftigungspflicht schwerbehinderter Arbeitnehmer : Erkenntnisse aus der Einführung des "Gesetzes zur Bekämpfung der Arbeitslosigkeit Schwerbehinderter" (Effects of the obli," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 41(1), pages 9-24.
    7. Hullegie, Patrick & Koning, Pierre, 2015. "Employee Health and Employer Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 9310, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Rafael Lalive & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Josef Zweimüller, 2009. "Do Financial Incentives for Firms Promote Employment of Disabled Workers? A Regression Discontinuity Approach," NRN working papers 2009-11, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    9. Thomas Barnay & Emmanuel Duguet & Christine Le Clainche & Yann Videau, 2016. "An evaluation of the 1987 French Disabled Workers Act: Better paying than hiring," Working Papers hal-01292132, HAL.
    10. Maja Prudzienica, 2012. "Disabled Persons on Labour Market - Analysis of Solutions in Poland and Selected EU Countries," MIC 2012: Managing Transformation with Creativity; Proceedings of the 13th International Conference, Budapest, 22–24 November 2012 [Selected Papers], University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper.
    11. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Heitmueller, Axel, 2007. "The chicken or the egg?: Endogeneity in labour market participation of informal carers in England," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 536-559, May.
    13. Wuellrich, Jean-Philippe, 2010. "The effects of increasing financial incentives for firms to promote employment of disabled workers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 173-176, May.
    14. Stephane Gregoir; & Tristan-Pierre Maury;, 2012. "On the impact of social housing on the labour position of disabled," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 12/22, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    15. Jones, Melanie K. & Latreille, Paul L. & Sloane, Peter J., 2007. "Disability and Work: A Review of the British Evidence," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 25, pages 473-498, Abril.
    16. Lindeboom, Maarten & Llena-Nozal, Ana & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2016. "Health shocks, disability and work," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 186-200.
    17. Rupert Harwood, 2016. "What Has Limited the Impact of UK Disability Equality Law on Social Justice?," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(4), pages 1-23, November.
    18. Stéphane Gregoir & Tristan‐Pierre Maury, 2013. "The Impact Of Social Housing On The Labour Market Status Of The Disabled," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(9), pages 1124-1138, September.
    19. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:41:i:1:p:9-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Reeves, Aaron & Karanikolos, Marina & Mackenbach, Johan & McKee, Martin & Stuckler, David, 2014. "Do employment protection policies reduce the relative disadvantage in the labour market experienced by unhealthy people? A natural experiment created by the Great Recession in Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 98-108.
    21. Jones, Melanie K., 2006. "Is there employment discrimination against the disabled?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 32-37, July.

    More about this item


    Disability Employment Difference-in-difference Discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)


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