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Disaggregating Employment Protection: The Case of Disability Discrimination

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  • Christine Jolls
  • J.J. Prescott

Abstract

Studies of the effects of employment protection frequently examine protective legislation as a whole. From a policy reform perspective, however, it is often critical to know which particular aspect of the legislation is responsible for its observed effects. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), a 1990 federal law covering over 40 million Americans, is a clear case in point. Several empirical studies have suggested that the passage of the ADA reduced rather than increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. To the extent this is true, it is crucial to credibly disentangle the different features of this complex and multi-faceted law. Separately evaluating the distinct aspects of the ADA is important not only for determining how the law might best be reformed if some aspects of it produce negative employment effects, but also for improving our understanding of the potential consequences of ADA-like provisions in race and other civil rights laws. This paper exploits state-level variation in pre-ADA legal regimes governing disability discrimination to separately estimate the employment effects of each of the ADA's two primary substantive provisions. We find strong evidence that the immediate post-enactment employment effects of the ADA are attributable to its requirement of "reasonable accommodations" for disabled employees rather than to its potential imposition of firing costs for such employees. Moreover, the pattern of the ADA's effects across states suggests, contrary to widely discussed prior findings based on national-level data, that declining disabled employment after the immediate post-ADA period reflects other factors rather than the ADA itself.

Suggested Citation

  • Christine Jolls & J.J. Prescott, 2004. "Disaggregating Employment Protection: The Case of Disability Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 10740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10740
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    1. repec:tul:wpaper:1506 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Natalia Ramírez Bustamante & Ana Maria Tribin Uribe & Carmiña O. Vargas, 2015. "Maternity and Labor Markets: Impact of Legislation in Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 012610, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    3. 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.
    4. Vall Castello, Judit, 2012. "Promoting employment of disabled women in Spain; Evaluating a policy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 82-91.
    5. Michael Lechner & Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, 2011. "The effect of disability on labour market outcomes in Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(4), pages 389-412.
    6. Melanie K. Jones, 2009. "The Employment Effect of the Disability Discrimination Act: Evidence from the Health Survey for England," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(2), pages 349-369, June.
    7. 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).
    8. 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.
    9. Chen, Susan & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2008. "The work disincentive effects of the disability insurance program in the 1990s," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 757-784, February.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. John J. Donohue III, 2005. "The Law and Economics of Antidiscrimination Law," NBER Working Papers 11631, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. David Neumark & Ian Burn & Patrick Button & Nanneh Chehras, 2016. "Do State Laws Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Reduce Age Discrimination in Hiring? Experimental (and Nonexperimental) Evidence," Working Papers wp349, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    14. Richard V. Burkhauser & Lauren H. Nicholas & Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2011. "The Importance of State Anti-Discrimination Laws on Employer Accommodation and the Movement of their Employees onto Social Security Disability Insurance," Working Papers wp251, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    15. 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.
    16. Melanie Jones, 2016. "Disability and labor market outcomes," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 253-253, April.
    17. Björn Brügemann, 2007. "Employment protection: Tough to scrap or tough to get?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(521), pages 386-415, June.
    18. MacLeod, W. Bentley & Nakavachara, Voraprapa, 2006. "Legal Default Rules: The Case of Wrongful Discharge Laws," IZA Discussion Papers 1970, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Mori, Yuko & Sakamoto, Norihito, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Employment Quota System for Disabled People: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design in Japan," Discussion Papers 2014-10, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.
    20. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:41:i:1:p:9-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. 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.
    22. Natalia Ramírez Bustamante & Ana Maria Tribin Uribe & Carmiña O. Vargas, 2015. "Maternity and Labor Markets: Impact of Legislation in Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 012610, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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