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Assessing the role of vocational rehabilitation in disability policy


  • David H. Dean

    (Assistant Professor of Econoics, Robins School of Business, University of Richmond)

  • Robert C. Dolan

    (Associate Professor of Economics and occupies the ennings Chair in Business at the University of Richmond)


Since 1975, vocational rehabilitation has represented a small and declining component of federal disability policy. This trend is perhaps reflective of the relatively crude assessment techniques that have been applied to the program in the past. Using the Virginia Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program as a prototype, we outline how the data and methods of assessment can be improved for purposes of directing public policy. The key issues include identifying an appropriate comparison group for VR, analysis of longitudinal earnings data, and methods for refining measures of program cost. The analysis provides “fixed-effects” estimates of net earnings impacts for each of three postprogram years stratified by disability classification and gender. These treatment impacts are compared to total and service-specific costs. In general, this analysis suggests that evaluation of VR can be substantially improved and that these improvements can be attained at relatively modest analytic cost.

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Dean & Robert C. Dolan, 1991. "Assessing the role of vocational rehabilitation in disability policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 568-587.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:10:y:1991:i:4:p:568-587
    DOI: 10.2307/3324984

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ronald W. Conley, 1969. "A Benefit-Cost Analysis of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 4(2), pages 226-252.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1985. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 648-660, November.
    3. Laurie J. Bassi, 1983. "The Effect of CETA on the Postprogram Earnings of Participants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(4), pages 539-556.
    4. John H. Bishop, 1989. "Toward more valid evaluations of training programs serving the disadvantaged," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(2), pages 209-228.
    5. Katherine P. Dickinson & Terry R. Johnson & Richard W. West, 1986. "An Analysis of the Impact of CETA Programs on Participants' Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 64-91.
    6. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1979. "Population Heterogeneity and Inference from Panel Data on the Effects of Vocational Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 213-226, October.
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