Why Do Workers with Disabilities Earn Less? Occupational Job Requirements and Disability Discrimination


Kruse, D., Schur, L., Rogers, S., & Ameri, M. (2017). Why do workers with disabilities earn less? occupational job requirements and disability discriminationBritish Journal of Industrial Relations56(4), 798–834. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12257


We analyze competing explanations for the lower pay of employees with disabilities, using 2008–2014 data from the American Community Survey matched to O*Net data on occupational job requirements. The results indicate that only part of the disability pay gap is due to productivity-related job requirements. The remaining pay gap — experienced by employees whose impairments should not limit their productivity — reflects potential discrimination. The discrimination-related pay gaps appear to be smallest and possibly non-existent for women and men with hearing impairments, and largest for those with cognitive and mobility impairments. Overall the results indicate that discrimination is likely to remain an influence on the pay of many workers with disabilities.

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