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Disabled people's living standards: filling a policy vacuum

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  • D.P. Doessel
  • Ruth F.G. Williams

Abstract

Purpose - Government policy can alleviate inequities in living standards. Disabled people often qualify for government assistance which is one way that their living standard can improve, although arbitrary systems for distributing assistance are not likely to serve equity objectives. The purpose of this paper is to indicate the key variables to which government should direct attention, in order to alleviate both horizontal and vertical inequity in grants to disabled people. Design/methodology/approach - There is no literature, either theoretical or empirical, that specifically addresses this problem. This paper invokes important economic concepts associated with the nineteenth century English philosopher/economist, John Stuart Mill, as well as the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Amartya Sen. Mill's general conception of how government should behave in treating citizens was elaborated subsequently in the public finance literature on principles of taxation. These notions are about “the equal treatment of equals” and “the unequal treatment of unequals”. Sen's recent discussion of the “conversion handicap” from his general framework of capabilities is highly relevant to the question addressed here. Findings - These concepts, applied with some analytical tools of algebra and geometry, show that Mill's principles can combine with Sen's into a relevant conceptual framework. The central principles and concepts for policy formation on the standard of living for disabled people are not random; they can be specified with clarity. Originality/value - This paper contributes the relevant conceptual “yardsticks” by which policy for distributing assistance to disabled people can be evaluated. Steps, towards devising better approaches to the distribution of assistance to disabled people can now be taken.

Suggested Citation

  • D.P. Doessel & Ruth F.G. Williams, 2011. "Disabled people's living standards: filling a policy vacuum," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(4), pages 341-357, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijsepp:v:38:y:2011:i:4:p:341-357
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter Butterworth & Timothy Crosier, 2004. "Mental Health Problems, disability and income support receipt: a replication and extension using the HILDA Survey," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174, June.
    2. Richard Brazenor, 2002. "Disabilities and labour Market earnings in Australia," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 5(3), pages 319-334, September.
    3. Lixin Cai & Robert G. Gregory, 2004. "The Labour Market Conditions, Applications and Grants of disability support Pension (DSP) in Australia," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 7(3), pages 374-394, September.
    4. Roger Wilkins, 2004. "The Effects of Disability on Labour Force Status in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 37(4), pages 359-382, December.
    5. Derek Hum & Wayne Simpson, 1996. "Canadians with Disabilities and the Labour Market," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(3), pages 287-299, September.
    6. Jones, Andrew & O'Donnell, Owen, 1995. "Equivalence scales and the costs of disability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 273-289, February.
    7. Paul Flatau & June Galea & Ray Petridis, 2000. "Mental Health and Wellbeing and Unemployment," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 33(2), pages 161-181.
    8. Martha Nussbaum, 2003. "Capabilities As Fundamental Entitlements: Sen And Social Justice," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 33-59.
    9. Asghar Zaidi & Tania Burchardt, 2005. "Comparing Incomes When Needs Differ: Equivalization For The Extra Costs Of Disability In The U.K," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(1), pages 89-114, March.
    10. Marjorie Baldwin & William G. Johnson, 1994. "Labor Market Discrimination against Men with Disabilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-19.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcello Morciano & Ruth Hancock & Stephen Pudney, 2015. "Disability Costs and Equivalence Scales in the Older Population in Great Britain," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(3), pages 494-514, September.

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