Twenty-Five Years After the ADA: Situating Disability in America’s System of Stratification
Michelle Maroto, David Pettinicchio
Americans with disabilities represent a significant proportion of the population. Despite their numbers and the economic hardships they face, disability is often excluded from general sociological studies of stratification and inequality. To address some of these omissions, this paper focuses on employment and earnings inequality by disability status in the United States since the enactment of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a policy that affects many Americans. After using Current Population Survey data from 1988-2014 to describe these continuing disparities, we review research that incorporates multiple theories to explain continuing gaps in employment and earnings by disability status. In addition to theories pointing to the so-called failures of the ADA, explanations also include general criticisms of the capitalist system and economic downturns, dependence on social welfare and disability benefits, the nature of work, and employer attitudes. We conclude with a call for additional research on disability and discrimination that helps to better situate disability within the American stratification system.
Disability, Poverty, and Material Hardship since the Passage of the ADA
Julia A. Rivera Drew
The past 25 years have seen an unprecedented expansion in formal civil rights for people with disabilities that, among other things, was predicted to improve their economic well-being. Studies of economic well-being among people with disabilities have traditionally focused on employment and earnings, despite the fact that a minority of people with disabilities are employed. More recent literature has expanded to include measures of income poverty and material hardship, but has not examined trends in these dimensions of economic well-being over time or across different groups of people with disabilities.